Samsung breaks away from chaebol lobby following presidential scandal


Samsung Electronics, South Korea’s biggest family-run conglomerate, on Monday broke away from the country’s largest business lobby composed of chaebols after the presidential scandal fueled calls for the break-up or a full-scale reform of conglomerates.

A Samsung official told Xinhua that it officially offered to abandon its membership of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI), a business community that speaks for over 600 big corporations.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong appeared at a Dec. 6 parliamentary hearing, the first to grill all involved in the scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. During the hearing, Lee vowed to leave the FKI and stop paying membership fees.

Lee is suspected of bribing President Park’s longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the scandal, in return for getting support from the country’s national pension fund for the 2015 merger of two Samsung units to create a de-facto holding company.

It was very crucial to Vice Chairman Lee to inherit the group’s overall management control from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been hospitalized for over two and a half years after a heart attack.

An independent counsel team, which is investigating the scandal, sought to detain Vice Chairman Lee last month, but it was rejected by a Seoul court. The team allegedly plans to seek an arrest warrant once again for the actual Samsung chief later this month.

The FKI, which was established in 1961 and Lee’s grandfather Lee Byung-chull, founder of Samsung Group, served as the first chairman for, is suspected of brokering the donations by conglomerates to two non-profit foundations controlled by Choi.

The chaebol lobby is also accused of providing money to conservative civic groups to mobilize elderly protesters in pro-government rallies at the request of the presidential Blue House.

LG Group, South Korea’s No. 4 conglomerate, left the FKI on Dec. 27, becoming the first to do so among the top four chaebols.

SK Group and CJ Group would follow suit given that their heads indicated departure from it during the National Assembly hearing. SK is the third-largest business group.

The departures would put the survival of the FKI at risk as top four chaebols, including Samsung, Hyundai, SK and LG, account for more than two-thirds of total membership dues. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/

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