The chairman of South Korean giant Samsung Electronics yesterday vowed to go “all the way to the end” in lawsuits with his two siblings over vast a family fortune, accusing them of being greedy.
Lee Kun-hee, 70, was in February accused by his elder brother and sister of taking over some shares in Samsung Group subsidiaries left by the group’s late founder and their father, Lee Byung-chull.
Lee Maeng-hee, 80, said that after Lee Byung-chull’s death in 1987, Lee Kun-hee took over the shares, which the father had held under the names of other people including Samsung executives.
The eldest son demanded that his brother return some shares in Samsung Electronics — the group’s flagship firm — and in Samsung Life Insurance as well as cash, worth 710 billion won (US$623 million) in total.
Their sister Lee Sook-hee followed with a separate suit, reportedly demanding the return of assets worth about 190 billion won including shares in the same units.
“If they sue me, I will file countersuits all the way to the end. I will not only go to the Supreme Court, but also to the Constitutional Court even,” Lee Kun-hee, the country’s wealthiest man, told reporters.
He said he had no intention of giving “a single dime” to his brother and sister, adding that the matter of inheritance was settled long ago when their father was alive.
The pair were “being a bit greedy because Samsung is so big,” he said.
A Samsung Group spokeswoman declined to comment, saying the dispute was a personal matter.
Lee Byung-chull, who in 1938 founded the company that is now South Korea’s largest business group, had three sons and five daughters. Lee Kun-hee, the second son, has pushed Samsung Electronics to become the world’s top chipmaker and the second-largest mobile phone maker behind Nokia.
He was South Korea’s richest man in 2010, according to a Forbes Asia list, which estimated his worth at the time at US$7.9 billion.