Samsung Group vice chairman and heir apparent Lee Jae-yong (Jay Y. Lee) is set to resume his duties at the company next month, Yonhap News reported Friday, citing industry insiders familiar with the plan. The development comes nearly two months after Mr. Lee was released from detention following a nearly year-long period of incarceration based on charges of corruption and bribery. While initially sentenced to five years in prison over his alleged role in the 2015 consolidation of Samsung subsidiaries Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T that was approved following a series of indirect bribes aimed at supporting Choi Soon-sil, a close associate of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Mr. Lee ended up being acquitted of all charges in early February after the Seoul Higher Court disagreed with the original verdict and concluded there's no firm evidence of such collusion.
The grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul is presently abroad and plans to return from his business trips next month. He left the Far Eastern country last Thursday, March 22, according to recent reports. The scion is said to be touring Europe and may even visit North America and select Asian countries before returning, one insider claims. It's unclear whether Mr. Lee's schedule included a stop in France where President Emmanuel Macron announced a major AI investment on Samsung's part earlier this week. The de facto chip of South Korea's largest chaebol is understood to be meeting executives of the largest technology companies on the planet and is essentially brainstorming by discussing growth opportunities and recent global economy shifts, insiders believe.
Executive sources from the Seoul-based OEM said Mr. Lee doesn't intend to make any public appearances in the near future and is instead focusing on keeping a low public profile while overseeing the company. He's understood to have been involved in running Samsung's business even from jail, at least to a degree. Mr. Lee's return is expected to resume Samsung's aggressive investments in a broad range of industries, with the latest such bet being made before his incarceration in late 2016 when the conglomerate announced its largest foreign acquisition to date, having confirmed the $8 billion purchase of Stamford, Connecticut-based Harman International Industries.