Lee Jae-yong, Samsung’s vice chairman and de facto leader, will be released on parole this week, according to the South Korean Justice Ministry.
Lee, also known as Jay Y. Lee, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison in January after being found guilty of embezzlement and bribery by the Seoul High Court. In a televised briefing, the country’s justice minister announced that he will be released on August 13.
On the occasion of the country’s Liberation Day, which commemorates the liberation of Korea from Japanese imperial rule in 1945, Minister Park Beom-kye said Lee is among 810 other prisoners who have been granted parole. On Liberation Day last year, more than 600 prisoners were released.
“In consideration of the overcrowded condition of correctional facilities which are vulnerable to infectious diseases and to help overcome our economic condition, the number of persons granted parole has been significantly increased this year compared to last year,” Park said.
Lee might not be able to work again. Under South Korean law, he is barred from working for five years, and parolees are not allowed to travel abroad for business until their sentence is completed. Lee can request an exception from the Justice Ministry, but it’s unclear whether he has done so.
Lee was embroiled in a massive influence-peddling scandal that brought former South Korean President Park Geun-government hye’s down. Park is serving a sentence of more than two decades in prison for her role in the case.
Lee had been sentenced to five years in prison on bribery and embezzlement charges in August 2017, but he was released after an appeals court dismissed some of the charges and suspended the sentence after less than a year.
Lee, on the other hand, was sentenced to two and a half years in prison after a retrial in January. Lee Kun-hee, the company’s chairman, died last year after spending four years in a coma following a heart attack in 2014. Samsung’s de facto leader had been Lee’s younger brother.
Lee is currently facing a separate trial in connection with a contentious 2015 merger that aided him in consolidating control of the company.
Prosecutors claim that the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was done in a way that benefited Lee and allowed him to tighten his grip on Samsung Electronics, the family’s sprawling conglomerate’s crown jewel.