Samsung chairman wins inheritance lawsuit

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Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun- hee won inheritance lawsuit against his siblings, keeping his control over the Samsung Group, South Korea's largest conglomerate.

The Seoul Central District Court said on Friday that some of the stocks demanded by Lee's siblings were actually inherited to them, but it ruled that the 10-year period for inheritance claims had already expired. The court rejected the claims over other stocks, saying that the remaining stocks could not be viewed as their inheritance.

Maeng-hee, the eldest brother of Chairman Lee and former Cheil Fertilizer chairman, filed an inheritance retrieval lawsuit with the court on February 2012, claiming that his younger brother monopolized stocks in Samsung Life Insurance inherited from Lee Byung-chull, Samsung Group's founder who died in 1987.

The eldest son called for his younger brother to return 8.24 million shares in the life insurer, the ownership of which was changed from a third party name to his brother in 2008, demanding Samsung Everland return around 8.75 million shares in the insurer, whose ownership was moved from a borrowed name to the amusement park operator in 1998.

Sook-hee, the elder sister of Chairman Lee, sued his yournger brother on similar grounds by the eldest brother, asking the Seoul court to order the chairman of Samsung Electronics to return 2.23 million shares in Samsung Life Insurance. Families of the late second-eldest son joined the lawsuit.

The shares in Samsung Life Insurance demanded by Maeng-hee and Sook-hee had been held under borrowed names by their father Lee Byung-chull, but the ownership was transferred to their younger brother Kun-hee in late 2008 when special prosecutors for the case of Samsung slush fund recognized the shares as inherited assets, not slush fund.

Samsung Life Insurance is a key in the cross-share ownership structure in the Samsung Group. Chairman Lee has governed all the affiliates of the Samsung Group in a way that he and Samsung Everland, the group's de facto holding company, controls Samsung Life Insurance which controls the group's finance-related affiliates as well as Samsung Electronics that controls tech- related affiliates.

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