Lee Kun-hee, the Chairman of South Korea's techn giant Samsung Electronics, died at the age of 78 in Seoul on Sunday, according to a statement released by the company. Lee transformed Samsung into a world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business, Xinhua news agency quoted the statement as saying.
"All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey that we shared with him. Our deepest sympathies are with his family, relatives and those nearest. His legacy will be everlasting," the statement added.
Lee, the son of Samsung Group's founder Lee Byung-chul, was born in Uiryeong county in South Gyeongsang province of South Korea on January 9, 1942. He is widely credited as the man who took the company to a global stage, especially with its manufacture and sale of smartphones, televisions and other electronic items.
In 2014, Lee suffered a heart attack and had since remained hospitalised. Following this, his son, Lee Jae-yong, took over the reins of the company. His death comes at a crucial time for the company, as his son is battling charges of corruption.
Last month, South Korean prosecutors indicted Lee Jae-yong on charges of stock-price manipulation and other financial crimes. Lee's attorneys refuted the charges, which were also filed against 10 other current and former Samsung executives, describing them as 'investigators' one-sided claims.
In May, Lee, who runs the group as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, expressed remorse over causing public concern but did not admit to wrongdoing regarding his alleged involvement in the corruption scandal.
He then promised to end hereditary transfers of control of Samsung, promising not to pass the management rights he inherited from his father to his children. He also said the group would stop suppressing employee attempts to organise unions.
Lee Kun-hee himself was convicted by a court in 2008, on allegations of illegal share dealings, tax evasion and bribery, with officials stating that he attempted to pass on corporate control of Samsung to his three children.
With IANS and PTI inputs