Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong said on May 6 that he will not hand over the company's management rights to his children. It came at 3 p.m. on the day when he issued an apology to the public over the management succession process and labor union issues.
"I've been thinking about this for a long time, but I haven't revealed it to the public," Vice Chairman Lee said, adding, "I think it's irresponsible to mention my future succession when the business environment is not easy."
Lee's apology to the public came after the Samsung Compliance Surveillance Committee recommended that Lee apologize to the public on March 11. Standing in front of the microphone, Vice Chairman Lee bowed his head and said, "I failed to meet the expectations of the people and rather disappointed them. I failed to strictly abide by the law and ethics."
He continued to say, "Today's Samsung has grown into a top global company. It was all possible because of the love and interest of the people. In the process, we failed to meet the expectations of the people. On the contrary, we caused disappointment and anxiety. It's all my fault."
In August last year, after the Supreme Court overturned and remanded the original ruling on the "state affairs manipulation case" involving Lee, Samsung Electronics issued a written statement saying "It was sorry to the people," but this is the first time Lee has officially announced it at the podium himself.
In a press conference held at the multi-purpose hall of Samsung Electronics' Seocho office in Seoul, Vice Chairman Lee said, "We will no longer cause any controversy over the succession of management rights. We will never violate the law. I will not rely on expediency or do anything that is ethically criticized."
Noting that he and Samsung have received a lot of reprimands regarding the succession issue, Lee said, "Recently, a trial is underway on bribery charges related to succession. It is true that many controversies surrounding me and Samsung stem from this problem"
Samsung Group is under prosecution investigation and court trial over allegations that it moved Samsung BioLogics and other affiliates at the group's level to ensure that Lee smoothly takes over management rights during the 2015 merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries.
Earlier, the compliance watchdog committee demanded Lee apologize, judging that the unsavory incidents surrounding Samsung Group in the past were largely related to the issue.
On the same day, the vice chairman pledged a forward-looking attitude toward union activities, including the end of non-union management. He admitted that complying with labor and management's labor regulations, harmonizing and co-prosperity will help sustainable management and free union activities can create corporate value from a macro perspective.
It is also a follow-up measure to Samsung Electronics' former chairman Lee Sang-hoon of the board of directors and Vice President Kang Kyung-hoon, who were convicted in the first trial last December on charges of participating in the Samsung Electronics Service labor union's breakup.
Lee also announced detailed action plans to restore trust with civil society demanded by the compliance watchdog committee. It also said it will guarantee activities of the compliance watchdog regardless of Vice Chairman Lee's criminal trial.
There has been constant criticism in civil society that the compliance watchdog was a body for buck-passing to reduce the sentence of his bribery case.