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Samsung's Lee Jae-yong leaves for Middle East

Dec. 6, 2021 - 18:26 By Son Ji-hyoung
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong departs for South Korea at Seoul Gimpo Business Aviation Center to head for the United Arab Emirates on Monday on Monday. (Yonhap)
Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong left for the United Arab Emirates on Monday at around 10 p.m. ahead of scheduled meetings in the Middle East region.

Lee told reporters he would be returning to South Korea on Thursday, and did not elaborate on details about the trip.

Lee’s visit to the Middle East comes more than two years after the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics’ February 2019 meeting with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan. A few months later, in September 2019, Lee visited Samsung C&T’s metro construction site in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

A short pause in an ongoing trial has allowed the Samsung founder’s grandson to go on an overseas trip until court proceedings resume. Lee has been on trial at the Seoul Central District Court on criminal charges of alleged stock price manipulation and a breach of trust surrounding the 2015 merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, as well as Lee’s role in an accounting scandal involving Samsung BioLogics -- a move suspected to have paved the way for Lee to exert influence over Korea’s largest family-owned conglomerate.

Lee left just after a court date on Monday and the trial is due to restart on Dec. 16. Lee‘s 11-day trip to North America in November came as his trial was adjourned due to the nationwide university entrance exam known as Suneung.

This is Lee’s second overseas trip since he was released early in August from a jail term on a bribery case connected to ex-President Park Geun-hye.

Speculations are already swirling as to where Lee could be headed in the forthcoming respite of his trial set to take place from Dec. 27 to Jan. 7.