Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman and apparent heir Lee Jae-yong apologized on Wednesday over the South Korean conglomerate’s wrongdoings.
The de facto leader of the tech empire officially appeared before a nationally televised news conference at the company’s Seoul headquarters to deliver a rare public apology.
Lee expressed his regret over the illegal practices revolving around his succession and Samsung Group’s anti-labor policies. He vowed to end the group’s decades-old “no-union policy” and voiced his plan not to pass on management control to his children.
“It’s my fault. I apologize.”
– Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman
Lee, the eldest son of Samsung Group chief Lee Kun-hee, declared that he would be the last of his family members to lead the group. He said that he thought about the decision but hesitated to talk about the issue publicly. He ultimately deemed it irresponsible of him to raise the point when he has yet to prove his leadership during these trying times.
The vice-chairman addressed the public, saying that Samsung has not strictly observed laws and ethics. He also said that the group has been inadequate in communicating and participating in civil society.
Lee assured that he would not allow any unlawful actions and controversies regarding his management and succession process.
The heir’s most recent public apology since June 2015 comes after the conglomerate’s independent compliance monitoring committee advised him last March to issue a public apology over the group’s past illegal activities and address Samsung’s anti-labor union stance.
The committee also urged Lee to create measures that would improve Samsung’s culture concerning managerial succession, labor union management, and civil society communications.
Samsung Group formed the committee after a recommendation by the Seoul High Court, calling for stricter compliance measures. The conglomerate appointed former Supreme Court Justice Chief Kim Ji-hyung as the committee’s chief.
Conglomerate’s Past Activities
The heir apparent has been under trial for alleged bribery charges involving the ousted President Park Geun-hye. The court charged Lee in 2017 after giving bribes to a longtime friend of then-President Park seeking to secure backing to succeed his father and assure his leadership in the Samsung Group.
In December 2018, the district court found former and current Samsung Group members guilty over allegations of union sabotage activities at the former Samsung Everland and Samsung SDS. Last January, the conglomerate publicly apologized for such activities on its customer service unit union.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions stated that Samsung Group should concentrate on matching its promises with the appropriate action concerning its renewed stance on labor unions.