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Report: Samsung's scion informally taking over responsibilities after prison release

Report: Samsung's scion informally taking over responsibilities after prison release
Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong is focusing on pending projects for Samsung Electronics and Samsung Biologics, according to a South Korean press report Monday. File Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Samsung's vice chairman is expected to informally assume chief executive duties this week after being released on parole Friday.

Lee Jae-yong, the billionaire scion of the world's No. 1 chipmaker, is likely to preoccupy himself with decisions that impact Samsung Electronics' semiconductor production and Samsung Biologics' COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing, Yonhap reported Monday.

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A source at Samsung Electronics told the South Korean news agency that Lee "attended to his health" after being released Friday and is "also taking care of business issues."

The source also said that Lee is receiving reports on pending projects from a remote location, rather than conducting business at Samsung's offices, the report said.

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Lee was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 on bribery charges in connection to a previous South Korean president. He returned to prison in January to serve a 2 1/2-year term.

Lee's input is essential for Samsung Biologics, tapped by U.S. vaccine maker Moderna for large-scale, commercial fill-finish duties on its mRNA-based vaccines.

President Moon Jae-in had said Friday that he endorsed Lee's release because of the executive's anticipated role in the semiconductor and vaccine fields.

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Lee could visit Samsung Biologics' headquarters in the South Korean city of Incheon, where Moderna vaccines would be manufactured by the end of the month, according to Yonhap.

Under South Korean law, Lee cannot undertake his responsibilities as an official Samsung executive, but he can direct his employees to make decision on asset allocation, according to Park Ji-hoon, a Korean lawyer with Didimdol Law Firm in Seoul, YTN reported Monday.

Lee also could be kept busy with other court hearings. The Samsung chief is expected to appear at a trial for abuse of management power on Thursday and is required to appear in court as a defendant every Thursday until Sept. 16, Park said.

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