Former Samsung chairman pardoned to boost Olympic bidDecember 29th, 2009 - 2:32 pm ICT by IANS
Seoul, Dec 29 (DPA) Lee Kun Hee, the former chairman of Samsung Group, was granted a pardon from a tax evasion conviction by the South Korean government Tuesday to help boost the country’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“The nation’s business and sports circles have demanded a special pardon for former chairman Lee, citing the need to boost Pyeongchang’s ongoing bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics,” Justice Minister Lee Kwi Nam was quoted as saying by the Yonhap news agency.
“I could not ignore the repeated pleas from business and sports communities that Lee is vital for their bid to host the Olympics. I’ve decided to pardon him from the perspective of national interest,” KBS TV quoted President Lee Myung Bak as saying.
The sports community has sought to reinstate Lee, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), saying that Lee’s role was key to Pyeongchang’s third bid to host the games.
In 2003, the city lost its bid for the 2010 Olympics to Vancouver, Canada, and in 2007, Pyeongchang was beaten by Russia’s Sochi to host the 2014 games.
Lee, 67, said in 2008 that he would not act as an IOC member unless he was free from legal problems. Civic groups opposed the pardon, criticising it as favouritism that contradicted the principle of equality before the law.
He resigned as chairman in April 2008 over his alleged involvement in a scandal over an illegal bonds transfer in a move to give his son control of Samsung.
He was later cleared of charges of breach of trust but sentenced to a three-year suspended prison term for tax evasion.
He was also accused of involvement in the scandal surrounding the Samsung slush fund, which was allegedly used to bribe influential figures in South Korea.
Lee, the son of Samsung’s founder, helped Samsung group to grow into a major producer of cellphones, digital televisions, flat screens and memory chips during his chairmanship of more than two decades.
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Tags: 2010 olympics, 2018 winter olympics, breach of trust, chairman lee, digital televisions, equality before the law, flat screens, international olympic committee, ioc member, lee kun hee, memory chips, minister lee, pyeongchang, samsung group, slush fund, south korean government, tax evasion, vancouver canada, winter olympics, yonhap news agency