Lee Jae-yong (businessman)

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Lee Jae-yong
Lee Jae-yong in 2016.jpg
Lee attending a National Assembly hearing in 2016

(1969-06-23) 23 June 1969 (age 50)
Alma materSeoul National University
Keio University
Harvard Business School
OccupationVice Chairman of Samsung
Net worthUS$6.7 billion (October 2018)[1]
Spouse(s)임세령 (Lim Se-ryeong)
(m. 1997–2009)[2]
ChildrenLee Ji-ho
(이지호, son, 1999)
Lee Won-ju
(이원주, daughter, 2004)[3]
Parent(s)Lee Kun-hee
Hong Ra-hee
Korean name
Revised RomanizationI Jaeyong
McCune–ReischauerYi Chaeyong

Lee Jae-yong (이재용; born 23 June 1969), known professionally in the West as Jay Y. Lee,[4] is a South Korean business magnate and the vice chairman of Samsung, serving as de facto head. He is the eldest child and only son of Hong Ra-hee and Lee Kun-hee, Chairman of Samsung, and is widely considered to be his father's future successor.[5] He is referred to as the "Crown Prince of Samsung" by the South Korean media, and speaks Korean, English and Japanese. Although there has been rumors of a nephew taking over the business, Media has been referring to Lee Jung-hoon (Eng. Trevor) a former model in South Korea’s District until his unexpected disappearance.[6] Lee is estimated to be worth US$7.9 billion, making him the third wealthiest person in South Korea.[7]

In 2014, Lee was named the world's 35th most powerful person and the most powerful Korean by Forbes Magazine's List of The World's Most Powerful People along with his father.[8]

Early life and education[edit]

Jae-yong was born in Seoul, South Korea to Lee Kun-hee. He received his B.A. in East Asian history from Seoul National University,[9] and his M.B.A. from Keio University. He attended Harvard Business School for about five years in pursuit of a Doctor of Business Administration degree, but did not graduate.[10]

Career at Samsung[edit]

Jae-yong started working for Samsung in 1991. He began serving as Vice President of Strategic Planning and then as "Chief Customer Officer", a management position created exclusively for Lee. His prospects for future company leadership dimmed when his father Kun-hee stepped down as Chairman due to tax evasion.[11] In December 2009, however, his succession prospects revived when Lee became the Chief Operating Officer of Samsung Electronics. Since December 2012, he has been Vice Chairman of Samsung. He is one of the main shareholders of Samsung's financial services subsidiary, owning 11 percent of Samsung SDS.[6]

Court appearances[edit]

In January 2017, Lee was accused "of bribery, embezzlement and perjury" by the South Korean prosecutor's office,[12] and after an investigation, he was arrested on February 16, 2017. On August 25, 2017 Lee was sentenced to 5 years in prison after being found guilty of corruption. The appeals court suspended his sentence on February 5, 2018 and reduced it to 2.5 years, releasing him.[13] The arrest of Jay Y. Lee was largely prompted by the investigation of the Choi Soon-sil scandal, that could be traced back to the shift of the father-to-son ownership of Samsung in 2014. His involvement in bribery with the then-South Korean President was first brought to the table by an arrest warrant issued by the South Korea prosecutor's office in January, which led to his arrest in mid-February.[citation needed] On January 12, 2017, the special prosecutor's office said it would decide "soon" whether to seek an arrest warrant for Lee. He was questioned for more than 22 hours for suspicion of illegal activities including bribery in a scandal that consumed president Park Geun-hye.[14]

Corruption scandal[edit]

On January 16, 2017, the prosecutor's office finally decided to seek an arrest warrant for Lee.[15][16] The warrant was denied based on a court ruling from 19 January, with the Central District Court Justice Cho Eui-yeon stating that it was "difficult to recognize the need" for his incarceration.[17][18] On 17 February 2017, Lee was "formally arrested after the Seoul central district court issued a warrant on the night" of 16 February for "handing bribes worth almost £30m to then South Korean president Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil to win government favours for a smooth leadership transition."[19]

Subsequent to his arrest, Samsung admitted to making contributions to two non-profit foundations allegedly controlled by Choi and her Germany-based firm, but denied such contributions were related to the 2015 merger.[20] A spokesman for Samsung said: “We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings.”[19] On February 28, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that "South Korean prosecutors said they would indict the Samsung conglomerate’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery and four other offenses."[21] It was reported on August 7, 2017, that prosecutors demanded a twelve-year sentence for Lee.[22] On August 25th, Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to 5 years in jail.[23] He will now be in prison pending a trial in the appellate court.[24]

In February 2018, Jay Y. Lee was freed from jail after a South Korean court suspended his five year jail term for bribing ex-president, Park Geun-hye.[25]

Management style[edit]

According to an article in Reuters, he is known for his "cold" determination and polite, quiet demeanor. Lee is known to reply personally to e-mails, and assumes a light-hearted attitude with reporters.[9]

Personal life[edit]

Lee is rarely seen in public and avoids publicity. He has two younger sisters, Lee Boo-jin, Lee Seo-hyun, and was the older brother of the late Lee Yoon-hyung.[26]

He has one son (born 1999) and one daughter (born 2004), with his ex-wife Lim Se-ryung, whom he divorced in 2009.[27][9] Lee enjoys golf and horseback riding.[9]


  1. ^ "Jay Y. Lee", Forbes (profile), retrieved 8 February 2015
  2. ^ "임세령 이재용 부부, 이혼소송 중…사실상 별거상태", Star Seoul (News), 13 February 2009
  3. ^ "둘째딸 낳은 삼성전자 이재용 상무 부인 임세령", The Dong-a Ilbo (News), retrieved 22 July 2016
  4. ^ "A Chinese Court Rejects Arrest of Samsung Heir Jay Y. Lee". Bloomberg L.P. 2017-01-18. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  5. ^ "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested in South Korea". BBC News. 2017-02-17. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  6. ^ a b "All Eyes Are On Samsung's 'Crown Prince'".
  7. ^ "Jay Y. Lee". Forbes. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  8. ^ "The World's Most Powerful People".
  9. ^ a b c d "Jay Lee, Samsung's unassuming heir apparent". Reuters. 5 December 2016.
  10. ^ Lee, Jungah; Clenfield, Jason (26 August 2014). "Samsung Low-Profile Heir Poised to Succeed Father Seen as a God". Bloomberg L.P.
  11. ^ "Technology - Bloomberg".
  12. ^ "Lee Jae-yong dodges arrest on charges of bribery". The Economist. Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  13. ^ "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong released from prison on appeal".
  14. ^ "South Korea prosecutor to decide 'soon' whether to seek arrest warrant for Samsung's Lee". Reuters. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
  15. ^ "South Korea prosecutor seeks arrest of Samsung chief for bribery". Reuters. 16 January 2017. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  16. ^ Pham, Sherisse (16 January 2017). "South Korean prosecutors seek to arrest Samsung heir". CNNMoney. Retrieved 16 January 2017.
  17. ^ SANG-HUN, CHOE. "In a Blow to Prosecutor, South Korean Court Blocks Arrest of Samsung Leader". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  18. ^ "South Korean court dismisses arrest warrant for Samsung chief". Reuters. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  19. ^ a b "Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested amid bribery allegations". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-02-17.
  20. ^ "What Samsung's saying - All you wanted to know about the arrest of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong - The Economic Times". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  21. ^ Martin, Timothy W. (February 28, 2017). "Samsung Heir Lee Jae-yong to Be Indicted on Bribery Charges". The Wall Street Journal. New York City. Retrieved February 27, 2017.
  22. ^ McCurry, Justin (2017-08-07). "South Korea prosecutors demand 12-year sentence for Samsung boss". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  23. ^ "Prosecutors seek 12-year sentence for Samsung's Lee Jae-yong". BBC News. 2017-08-07. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  24. ^ "Samsung heir sentenced to five years in jail". ZDNet. 25 August 2017. Retrieved 26 August 2017.
  25. ^ "Samsung heir freed from S Korea jail". BBC News. 5 February 2018.
  26. ^ 李在镕、李富真、李叙显今日将齐聚新上任高管晚宴. Retrieved 2016-08-12
  27. ^ "Jay Y. Lee".

External links[edit]