Samsung chairman tops S. Korea’s rich list
SEOUL—Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-Hee, currently embroiled in an inheritance dispute with his siblings, remains South Korea’s richest man, according to a Forbes magazine ranking published Thursday.
The 70-year-old, who transformed the company into the world’s top chipmaker and second-largest mobile phone maker, has an estimated net worth of $10.8 billion, up $1.5 billion from 2011, said the US publication.
“Despite the dip in the KOSPI (Seoul’s benchmark stock index), a 52 percent rise in shares of Samsung Electronics propelled Lee Kun-Hee’s net wealth,” Forbes said in a statement.
Lee is engaged in a bitter legal dispute with his elder brother and sister over the vast family inheritance left by their father who founded the group.
Lee Maeng-Hee, 80, accuses the Samsung boss of taking over some shares in Samsung group subsidiaries that their father and group founder Lee Byung-Chull had held under the names of other people.
He demanded his brother return some shares in Samsung units along with cash, worth 710 billion won ($623 million) in total. Their sister Lee Sook-Hee followed with a separate suit.
Last week Kun-Hee vowed he would not give “a single dime” to his brother and sister and would fight the lawsuits to the end. The two sides swapped accusations of greed.
Chung Mong-Koo, chairman of the country’s largest automaker Hyundai Motor, was ranked second on the Forbes list with a net worth of $6.6 billion, followed by Kim Jung-Joo, a 44-year-old founder of online game company Nexon.
Kim’s net worth was $4.3 billion, Forbes said, calling his success as a self-made entrepreneur with no family-related business connections “remarkable.”
Jay Y. Lee, Samsung Electronics’ chief operating officer and the chairman’s first son, was ranked fourth with a net worth of $3.8 billion.
Lee Myung-Hee, Kun-Hee’s younger sister and the chief of major retailer the Shinsegae Group, was 11th with an estimated net worth of $1.68 billion. This made her the country’s wealthiest woman.
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