Samsung Heir Apologizes For Corruption and Union-Busting Scandals

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: The de facto head of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, apologized on Wednesday for the corruption and union-busting scandals that have bedeviled his conglomerate, declaring that he will be the last of his family members to lead the South Korean corporate empire. During a nationally televised news conference, Mr. Lee, 51, said Samsung would also respect its workers’ right to organize independent labor unions, ending its decades-old “no-union” philosophy. That stance was often cited as one of the key reasons Samsung could grow so rapidly while other conglomerates, like Hyundai, were often crippled by militant labor activism at their work sites.

“Samsung has not strictly complied with laws and ethics,” Mr. Lee said with a bow during the news conference at a Samsung headquarters in Seoul. “Although it has been lauded for being first rate in technology and products, Samsung has faced harsh criticism.” “This is my fault,” he said. “I apologize.” Over the decades, Samsung and its top leaders have often apologized for bribery, tax-evasion and other crimes. But corruption scandals have continued at Samsung, South Korea’s largest and most profitable business group. Both analysts and critics have said those scandals stemmed largely from the Lee family’s attempts to ensure a father-to-son transfer of managerial power over Samsung at all costs, even if that meant breaking laws and buying political influence. On Wednesday, Mr. Lee accepted such criticism. “All of the problems basically started from this succession issue,” he said. “From now on, I will make sure that no controversy happens again regarding the succession issue.” Mr. Lee said he had no intention of bequeathing managerial powers to his own children and vowed to give professional managers greater roles in Samsung. In 2017, Lee Jae-yong was charged with bribery and embezzlement in connection with the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye. He was later freed from prison after an appeals court reduced and suspended his five-year prison sentence.

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