Wife of Samsung boss cleared

LONDON. On 17 April the counsel investigating the corruption allegations against Korean corporation Samsung, cleared Ra Hee Hong Lee, wife of chairman Lee Kun-hee, of using $64m of Samsung money to buy up to 30 paintings. On 22 April, Mr Lee, one of ten executives charged with tax evasion and breach of trust without detention, stepped down in a televised resignation. He said that he took responsibility for the problems, without admitting any wrongdoing.

Prosecutors have been unable to prove the allegations, made by Samsung house attorney Kim Yong-chul, that paintings were bought with Samsung Company funds.

It has also emerged that the most expensive of the works, Lichtenstein’s $7m Happy Tears, was sent back to New York in March, by Hong Seong-won, director of the Seomi Gallery, who has always claimed the work is hers. She said it could not be kept safely in Korea.

One investigator told Chosun Ilbo newspaper: “We found that Happy Tears belongs to Hong Seong-won.” Nevertheless the whereabouts of the remaining “slush fund” works have not been revealed.

Lucian Harris

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