Jay Y. Lee, Samsung Group's Vice Chairman that was recently arrested in South Korea on charges of bribery and embezzlement connected to a massive corruption scandal can still lead the company from jail, Reuters reports. The de facto heir of the largest business conglomerate in the country can meet with his lawyers as often as he likes, which is a privilege that he may opt to use provided he stays incarcerated in the coming months. Apart from his lawyers, Lee has the right to up to 12 hours of monthly visits from anyone else, including other executives at Samsung who may use that time to brief him on the company's affairs. His potential involvement in the firm's dealings is still strictly limited to meetings as Lee isn't allowed to have a computer in his cell in Seoul Detention Center and also can't bring any documents with him.
Due to the fact that Lee's contribution to the company can only amount to reviewing documents and issuing orders during meetings, one of the most powerful businessmen in the country may meet with his lawyers on numerous occasions in the coming months. While the current situation is less than ideal for both Lee and Samsung's corporate affairs, the Seoul-based conglomerate has no plans to seek a replacement for its chief who's also the grandson of the company's founder. "There is no plan B," one executive told Reuters, adding how Samsung's top management is convinced that Lee will be proven innocent in court and continue leading the company in the future.
Lee's initial trial is currently set to be concluded by late May, but Samsung may seek bail if the ruling ends up being unfavorable for the defendant and Lee ends up filing an appeal with the Supreme Court of South Korea. In that scenario, Lee may be in jail until September, which would additionally inconvenience both him and Samsung's corporate dealings. Lee's arrest already led to numerous radical changes at Samsung, including an aggressive restructuring and an overhaul of the company's donation policies that allegedly enabled its Vice Chairman to pay over $37 million in bribes to facilitate a controversial merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in 2015.