CJ chief gets support from Samsung family

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CJ chief gets support from Samsung family

A two-year inheritance feud between two brothers at Samsung Group seems to have thawed as some family members filed a petition in support of CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun, who is on a trial for embezzlement, tax evasion and breach of trust.

Lee is the son of Maeng-hee, the oldest son of the late Lee Byung-chull, the Samsung Group founder.

The founder had six children; Maeng-hee, 83, filed a lawsuit against his younger brother Kun-hee, the chairman of Samsung Group, in February 2012, asking his brother to return part of his inheritance.

The original stake Maeng-hee requested was worth about 710 billion won ($696 million).

The court, however, ruled in favor of Kun-hee in February.

According to industry insiders, some members of the Samsung family who joined the petition are In-hee, the adviser to Hansol Group and eldest daughter of Byung-chull; Myung-hee, the chairwoman of Shinsegae Group and youngest sister of Maeng-hee; and Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and son of Kun-hee and Hong Ra-hee, who is the director of Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art.

In the petition, the family asked for leniency from the judges because CJ Group Chairman Lee recently got a kidney transplant and is suffering from side effects.

“It’s natural for families to ask for a plea for mercy because that is what families are for,” said an official at Samsung Group who wanted to remain anonymous.

“We’re really grateful for that,” said a high-ranking official at CJ Group. “It may be a way to solve a conflict within a family. I hope this will be a chance for the family to reconcile.”

According to people working in the legal field, Sohn Bok-nam, the adviser to CJ Group, asked for help from the women of Samsung for his son Jay-hyun.

After the inheritance feud came to an end, Kun-hee released a statement in February through his proxy saying, “I’m sorry to make you worried about my family issue and I’ll do my best to achieve harmony within the family.”

Maeng-hee, the former chairman of Cheil Fertilizer, is also known to have said back then, “I think family comes [before] a lawsuit” after he lost the legal battle.

Meanwhile, Jay-hyun was sentenced to four years in prison and to pay 26 billion won in fines in July of last year.

He expects to hear a ruling from the appeals court on Sept. 4.

BY KIM YOUNG-MIN, LEE SO-AH [so@joongang.co.kr]

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