SOUTH KOREA - BUSINESS

Samsung chief quits

2 min

Less than a week after he was charged for tax evasion and breach of trust, Samsung Group head Lee Kun-hee said he was resigning from his post at South Korea's largest conglomerate. (Report: R.Ranucci, C.Casali)

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SEOUL, April 22 (Reuters) - Samsung Group head Lee Kun-hee,
indicted last week for tax evasion and breach of trust, said on
Tuesday he was quitting his post at South Korea's largest
conglomerate.


"I will step down from the Samsung chairman position today.
I am saddened as there is still much to do and a way to go, but
I will leave with all the faults of the past," Lee said in a
brief statement broadcast on national television.


Lee also said the group would dismantle its powerful
strategic planning office, which critics say is an opaque
organisation that is able to exercise influence across some 60
affiliates, including flagship company Samsung Electronics, a
world leader in computer memory chips.


A special prosecutor in January launched a probe into
corruption allegations after a former top legal executive at the
group said some of its top management hid money and kept a slush
fund to bribe politicians, prosecutors and officials.


The prosecutor found no evidence to support the bribery
allegation.


If found guilty on the tax evasion charge Lee could serve
from five years to life in jail.


South Korean conglomerates, known as chaebol, powered South
Korea from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean War to become Asia's
fourth-largest economy but have been accused for years of having
impenetrable management structures.


Critics say few changes have been made over the years at the
family-run business groups, despite a number of high-profile
convictions of their leaders. In contrast, pro-business groups
have voiced concerns that the probe has delayed important
management decisions at Samsung.
 

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