, SEOUL, Feb 1 – Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-Hee won a court ruling Friday against demands from his siblings to hand over billions of dollars in shares in various Samsung Group companies.
The court allowed Lee to retain all his shareholdings in the giant conglomerate that members of his family had accused him of hiding from them following the death of his father and Samsung founder Lee Byung-Chul.
If the court had found against Lee, 71, it would have forced a restructuring of the complex web of shareholdings across the group’s entities and weakened his hold on it.
The main claimants were Lee’s brother Lee Maeng-Hee, his sister Lee Suk-Hee and the children of another brother.
They said that after their father’s death in 1987, Lee had taken over shares and assets worth around $4 billion in Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance that had been held under the names of other people.
Lee is South Korea’s richest man, with a net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at around $10.8 billion.
In his initial suit, Lee Maeng-Hee had demanded Lee hand over around 710 billion won ($647 million) in shares. But the assets at stake increased to 4.1 trillion won as other relatives got involved.
The Seoul Central District Court accepted Lee Kun-Hee’s claims that most of the shares under dispute were not those left by his father. It also ruled that the statute of limitations on claiming the inheritance had expired.
Lee Maeng-Hee’s lawyer said a decision would be made later on whether to appeal.
Lee Byung-Chul, who founded what is now the world’s largest technology firm by revenue, had three sons and five daughters.
Lee Kun-Hee became chairman in 1987 and the conglomerate has flourished under his stewardship, becoming the world’s top chipmaker and mobile phone maker.