In this April 22, 2008 file photo, former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee speaks during a press conference at Samsung Group’s headquarters in Seoul. (AP photo)
SEOUL – Samsung’s founding family will donate tens of thousands of rare works of art, including Picassos and Dalis, to help them pay massive inheritance tax following the death of company chairman Lee Kun-Hee last year / p> They will also allocate hundreds of millions of dollars to medical projects and research to improve their public image as they pursue a multi-year plan to inherit both the wealth and corporate power of South Korea’s richest businessman.
The Lee family, including his widow and three children, expect to pay more than 12 trillion won ($ 10.8 billion) in inheritance tax, which is more than half of the wealth Lee holds in stocks and real estate Samsung said on Wednesday. That would be the largest amount in South Korea and more than three times the country’s total estate tax revenue last year.
Giving away the late chairman’s vast collection of masterpieces would reduce the taxable portion of his estate.
The family is planning to split the payment into six installments over five years, with the first payment this month. « It is our civil duty and responsibility to pay all taxes, » the Lee family said in a statement. They had until Friday to report the scope of inheritance and payment plans to tax authorities.
Raising cash to pay taxes is vital for the Lee family to expand control of Samsung’s business empire, the from semiconductors, smartphones and televisions to construction, shipbuilding and insurance. Some analysts say the process could shake the entire group.
The late Lee owned 4.18% of Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of computer memory chips and smartphones, but was also in Samsung subsidiaries involved, who together owned a larger stake than he did in the crown jewel electronics company. The complex ownership structure has allowed Lee and his family to wield broad control over the group.
In Wednesday’s statement, Samsung didn’t mention how Lee’s widow and children would share his wealth, and there is speculation that they would have not reached a final agreement.
Most market analysts believe that Lee’s shares will be distributed in such a way that the leadership of his only son and heir Lee Leee-yong, the de facto boss of Samsung Electronics, currently charged with bribery and imprisoned for other crimes is empowered. Lee’s other children are Lee Boo-jin, CEO of Samsung’s Shilla luxury hotel chain, and Lee Seo-hyun, director of the Samsung Welfare Foundation.
The family plans to donate 23,000 works of art from Lee’s personal collection to two state museums. These include ancient Korean paintings, books, and other cultural assets designated as national treasures, as well as modern Korean painters such as Park Soo-keun and Lee Jung-seop. There are also works by Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso, Paul Gauguin, Claude Monet, Joan Miro and Salvador Dali, Samsung said.
The National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art said the 1,488 pieces it received from the Lee family have been the largest private donation. Works included Lee Jung-seops « Bull », Dali’s « Family of Marsupial Centaurs », Monet’s « Water Lily Pond » (Le Bassin Aux Nympheas) and Chagall’s « Red Bouquet With Lovers » (Les Amoureux Aux Bouquets Rouges).
The National Museum of Korea will receive around 21,000 pieces from Lee’s collection of Korean traditional art, including paintings, ceramics and sculptures.
Hwang Hee, South Korea’s Minister of Culture, said some of the art donated by Lee will be on display to the public from June become. He expressed « deep gratitude » to the Lee family for the « enrichment » of the country’s heritage, but avoided questions about whether he believed Samsung was trying to create a positive atmosphere for Lee Jae-yong to be pardoned .
The Lee family will also donate 1 trillion won ($ 900 million) to fund infectious disease research and treatment for children with cancer and rare diseases.
About half of that money will be used for funding used to build a 150-bed hospital offering special treatments for infectious diseases. After the emergence of COVID-19, experts had increased the need for such facilities equipped with negative pressure rooms and other advanced systems.
About 300 billion ($ 267 million) of the funds will flow into a Dekadelong program with the Seoul National University Children’s Hospital to help families fund treatment for children with cancer and rare diseases, and support clinical trials and drug development.
« Members of the (Lee family) hope for life To honor the late Chairman Lee and his commitment to corporate citizenship and co-prosperity by giving back to the communities, « said Samsung.
Before his death in October, Lee was transforming Samsung Electronics from a small television company into one attributed to global semiconductor and consumer electronics giants. However, his leadership was also marred by corruption beliefs, which highlighted the traditionally murky relationships between the country’s family-owned conglomerates and politicians. He had been hospitalized for years following a heart attack in 2014.
Lee Jae-yong, who has since led the group in his capacity as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, is currently serving a 2 1/2 year old Imprisonment for bribing then-President Park Geun-hye and her close confidante to win government support for a merger between two Samsung subsidiaries in 2015. The deal helped strengthen Lee’s control of the Samsung group, however the revelations of his corrupt relationships with the park government sparked a 2016 corruption scandal that sparked major protests and ousted Park from office.
The younger Lee has vowed to improve Samsung’s corporate culture, stating that inheritance transfers in the Group and that he would not pass on the administrative rights he inherited to his children. He also said Samsung will stop suppressing attempts by employees to organize unions despite labor activists questioning its sincerity.
A growing number of politicians, religious and business leaders have urged President Moon Jae-in to Apologize to Lee. They say this would help Lee strengthen Samsung’s global leadership position in semiconductors, and he could potentially use his business reach to help the country get more coronavirus vaccines.
Critics point out Samsung is in the Showed no sign of problems in 2017 and 2018 when Lee was in jail, and that prison sentences never really stopped company executives from sharing their management decisions behind bars.
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