Pressure Mounts On South Korea’s President To Release Jailed Samsung Head Honcho As US  Offers ‘Chip For Vaccine’ Swap Deal Source: Twitter

South Korean president Moon Jae-in Is under increasing pressure to pardon jailed Samsung chairperson Lee Jae-yong.

Lee, vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics and the de facto head of the Samsung Group, is currently in jail after being convicted for embezzlement and bribery.

In Jan this year, Lee was convicted of bribing an associate of former president Park Geun-hye and jailed for five years in 2017. The court sentenced him to 2½ years in prison.

Samsung, which accounts for about 20 per cent of South Korea's gross domestic product, has said that Lee’s guidance is critical for the chaebol to navigate through challenging global situation.

Industry observers believe that Lee's absence is delaying key business decisions, such as merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, as foreign rivals prepare for new opportunities in the post-pandemic era.

The Financial Times reported that American Chamber of Commerce has urged South Korean president to pardon Lee as his role will be critical in helping US attain self-sufficiency in semi-conductor chip production.

US is reportedly urging Samsung to invest in another semiconductor manufacturing unit and in return has offered to set up an unit of biopharmaceutical firm Moderna to produce its vaccines in South Korea.

In April 2019, Samsung Electronics unveiled a vision to become the world's No. 1 logic chipmaker by 2030 by investing 133 trillion won and bolstering its competitiveness in the system LSI and foundry businesses.

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