At the height of the controversy, Lee resigned from Samsung shortly after his conviction. Lee would not serve any time in prison, though, as the following year South Korean President Lee Myung-bak would issue a pardon for Lee Kun-hee so that the executive could help lead a bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang. The move triggered even more controversy since critics viewed it as continued evidence of corruption. In January of this year, on his way out of office, President Lee pardoned 55 more people who were convicted of various charges.
Lee Kun-hee has also been embroiled in an inheritance dispute with his siblings over the family fortune. Siblings alleged that Lee hid assets to maintain control of various parts of the conglomerate. South Korean courts recently sided with Lee.
In 2010, Lee would return as Samsung's chairman, and he remains at the helm to this day. His only son, Lee Jae-yong, is next up to inherit the family business, much like how Lee Kun-hee inherited the role from his father, who founded the company in 1938 as just a trucking business.
Keeping it in the family Samsung has become a global force to be reckoned with under Lee's leadership. While his tenure has been tarnished by numerous corporate scandals, it's also been marked by incredible growth.
In 2012, Samsung became No. 1 vendor of both smartphones and features phones by unit volumes, and it has played a large role in the proliferation of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, particularly in emerging markets that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has historically had difficulty tapping into.
There's no doubt that Lee Jae-yong will become Samsung's next chairman, and he'll have some big shoes to fill.
The article Meet Samsung's Steve Jobs originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Evan Niu, CFA.
Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Apple and Google.
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