Newly Discovered Accounts Reveal Larger Scale of Samsung CEO's Scheme to Hide Billions, Evade Taxes

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Oct 11, 2018

Lee Kun-hee, CEO and chair of Samsung Electronics, is in the spotlight again as authorities discovered that the scale of his previously exposed tax evasion scheme was larger than originally thought, according to Bloomberg. The Korean billionaire opened more than a thousand accounts in the names of his employees in order to hide his wealth from tax authorities.

The scheme was first uncovered in 2008, revealing more than a thousand accounts controlled by Lee but technically belonging to Samsung employees; he used those accounts to avoid taxes on about $4 billion worth of assets. The CEO was found guilty of tax evasion, but was later pardoned as part of the country's bid to host the 2018 winter Olympics. 

Bloomberg said that police have now discovered 260 more accounts in the name of 72 executives harboring $352 million in assets. The employees told investigators that they gave the company their IDs when asked, without knowing what the purpose was; it is highly unlikely, said Bloomberg, that these employees even knew the accounts were made in their name. Few of them even have money in them anymore, as Lee took out the assets without following any of the required legal procedures, such as converting them to his own name (which, of course, would have defeated the purpose of this whole scheme). 

Police are investigating this latest wrinkle, though said they cannot interview Lee directly due to his poor health—he suffered a heart attack in 2014. 

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