Business & Economy

Business groups urge release of Samsung heir from jail amid chip shortage

Seoul, Apr 27 (EFE).- Major South Korean business lobby groups said Tuesday they have petitioned the presidential office requesting the pardon of jailed Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong to protect the economy amid a global shortage of memory chips, the main national industry.

The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Korea Enterprises Federation, the Korea Federation of SMEs, the Korea International Trade Association and the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea submitted their request in a joint letter on Monday.

“Our semiconductor industry is facing new risks and a challenging situation,” the letter said, according to Yonhap news agency.

“If we see a delay in investment and business decisions because of a leader’s absence who needs to oversee the company’s management amid fierce competition of the chip industry, the country may lose the No. 1 status in a day.”

Lee was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison in January in a retrial of a bribery case involving former president Park Geun-hye. However, given time already spent, Lee is expected to be released from prison in July next year.

South Korea is the world’s leading semiconductor powerhouse, with Samsung Electronics as the world’s largest memory chip producer, and second behind Taiwan’s TSMC in foundries to make integrated circuits.

These products account for almost 20 percent of South Korean export muscle, a key pillar of its gross domestic product.

Faced with the current global shortage in the supply of semiconductors, several sectors in the country have called for Lee to be released amid fears that capital investments from companies from China or the United States could end up taking away the throne from South Korea.

Even the largest Buddhist order in the country, the Jogye, sent a letter to the government in early April requesting his release. EFE


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