An employee of Samsung Group walks in
front of the company's logo at its headquarters in Seoul April 22, 2008.
Samsung Group Chairman 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.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
SEOUL, April 22 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's Samsung Group
President Lee Kun-hee resigned on Tuesday amid charges of tax evasion and breach
Lee, who has controlled South Korea's largest
business conglomerate for 20 years, announced the decision at a nationwide
televised news conference.
"Today, I decided to retire as chairman of Samsung,"
Lee said. "I would like to express my deepest apologies for causing great
concerns to the public as a result of the special probe."
South Korean prosecutors announced the result of a special investigation into Samsung's corruption scandal on last Thursday and decided to charge Lee with tax evasion and breach of trust.
Employees of Samsung Group work at the company's headquarters in Seoul April 22, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
According to the prosecutors, Lee was in suspicion of
trading Samsung shares with secret money and secured huge profits, while evading
about 112.8 billion won (114 million U.S. dollars) worth of taxes.
The prosecutor also found a total of 4.5 trillion won
(4.5 billion U.S. dollars) stashed in borrowed-name accounts were Lee's assets.
Lee's reported fortune was 2 trillion won (2 billion U.S. dollars) this year.
Lee will go on trial without physical detention, as
the prosecutor called the irregularities a "time-honored practice" by local
The prosecutors said that Lee played a role in the
illegal transfer of group control. The father-to-son transfer occurred in the
mid-1990s. Lee Kun-hee's son acquired convertible bonds of the theme park
Everland, Samsung's de-facto holding company, and took control of the group
through buying the CBs "at a remarkably low price."
Samsung has some 200,000 employees in 59 affiliates.
Following Lee's resignation, shares of Samsung Corp.,
the group's trading arm, closed sharply down by 9.01 percent while shares of
Samsung Securities fell 4.78 percent.
Samsung Group Vice Chairman Lee Hak-soo said the post
of group president would remain vacant and Lee Soo-bin, chairman of Samsung Life
Insurance Co. will serve as a representative of the group if necessary.
Lee Kun-hee, 66, ranked 605th in Forbes Magazine's
2008 "World's Billionaires" list, with an estimated fortune of 2 billion U.S.