Samsung chief blasts inheritance claims

Seoul (The Korea Herald/ANN) - Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee said Tuesday he will not back down in the inheritance battle with his siblings, vowing that he will even take it to the Constitutional Court.

"If they file suits against me, I will take the same actions and I am even thinking of going to the Constitutional Court, taking it a step further than the Supreme Court," he said. "I have no intention of giving them any money."

Indicating that the property-sharing already took place between the siblings, CJ Group has been attempting to grab the shares of Samsung because of their huge value, Lee added.

When asked if he was hurt by the fact that his own sibling raised the suits, he said, "No, I don't feel hurt since they are not my competition."

Lee's comments were the first spoken in public since his elder brother Lee Maeng-hee went ahead with the inheritance suit earlier in February. Since then, two other family members have followed.

CJ Group, chaired by Lee Jay-hyun, the oldest son of Lee Maeng-hee, did not release an official statement in response to Lee Kun-hee's comments, but expressed anger at his behavior.

CJ has requested that Samsung, the country's top conglomerate, apologize and make clear its stance on its employee's involvement in the shadowing incident of its chairman.

"I don't know how they could act in such a way without even providing an explanation or apologizing," said a CJ official.

The conflict between the Lee siblings dates back to Feb. 12 when Lee Maeng-hee, who is the eldest son of Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chull, filed an inheritance suit against Samsung chairman Lee at the Seoul Central District Court.

The elder Lee asked the court to order his younger brother to return 8.24 million shares in Samsung Life Insurance and 20 perferred and common stocks in Samsung Electronics, along with 100 million won ($89,000) - adding up to about 710 billion won.

Following the suit, Lee Kun-hee's older sister Lee Sook-hee decided to file suit with the same court, asking for shares left by the founder worth 190 billion won. The family members of Lee Kun-hee's older brother Lee Chang-hee have also raised another inheritance suit worth up to 100 billion won last month.

The suits have been taken up by the firm Yoon and Yang LLC, better known as Hwawoo here.

Since then, Samsung announced the formation of a legal team last month, composed of six lawyers who will represent Lee Kun-hee in the ongoing inheritance battle soon after its chairman returned from his Hawaii trip.

The six lawyers are from three different law firms - Bae, Kim and Lee LLC, Shin and Kim and The ONE - and they will form an independent panel to go forward with the legal proceedings, according to Samsung officials.

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