The president of South Korea pardoned Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of Samsung, on Friday for crimes including bribery, giving him more freedom to run the smartphone and semiconductor behemoth.

Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee in the West, is a South Korean business magnate and the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics. He is the only son of Hong Ra-hee and Lee Kun-hee. 

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Despite not holding the title of chairman, Jae-yong serves as the de facto leader of the Samsung group as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics. 

Jae-yong was born in Seoul, South Korea. He went to Kyungbock High School. He graduated from Seoul National University with a B.A. in East Asian history and Keio University with an M.B.A. He spent about five years at Harvard Business School pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration degree, but he did not graduate.

Jae-yong was employed by Samsung in 1991. He started out in management as the Vice President of Strategic Planning before being named the “Chief Customer Officer,” a position created specifically for Jae-yong.

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When his father Kun-hee resigned as Chairman due to tax evasion, his chances for future company leadership were reduced.

However, after Jae-yong joined Samsung Electronics as the company’s COO in December 2009, his chances of succeeding him were revived. His role as vice chairman of Samsung began in December 2012.

His ownership of 11% of Samsung SDS makes him one of the major shareholders in Samsung’s financial services subsidiary. 

The South Korean prosecutor’s office charged Jae-yong with bribery, embezzlement, and perjury in January 2017, and he was arrested on February 16, 2017. Jae-yong was sentenced to 5 years in prison on August 25, 2017, after being found guilty of corruption.

On February 5, 2018, the appeals court suspended his sentence and reduced it to 2.5 years, allowing him to be released.

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That arrest warrant issued in January 2017 by the South Korean prosecutor’s office, which resulted in his subsequent arrest in mid-February of that same year, first brought to light his involvement in a bribery act with the then-South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Jae-yong’s five-year sentence for bribing former president Park Geun-hye was suspended by a South Korean court on February 5, 2018, allowing him to be released from custody. A high court sentenced him to two years and six months in prison on January 18, 2021, and Jae-yong was then sent to Seoul Detention Center. 

Jae-yong was identified by The ICJJ in the Pandora Paper Leak on October 4, 2021. He received a presidential pardon from President Yoon Suk-yeol on August 12, 2022.

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The pardon will become official on August 15, 2022.

Prior to the nation’s Liberation Day, which commemorates the liberation of Korea from Japanese imperial rule in 1945, he was granted a pardon.