Convicted former Samsung chairman Lee reinstated as IOC member following pardon

By Stephen Wilson, AP
Sunday, February 7, 2010

IOC reinstates former Samsung boss as member

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Convicted ex-Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee was reinstated Sunday as a full member of the International Olympic Committee, a boost for South Korea’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Games.

Lee’s rights were restored by the IOC executive board, although the IOC also gave him a public reprimand for tarnishing the Olympic movement and banned him from serving on any IOC commissions for five years.

Lee voluntarily gave up his IOC rights after being indicted in 2008 in a financial and tax evasion case. The South Korean government pardoned Lee last year, clearing the way for his return to the IOC.

Lee is now free to attend IOC sessions, take part in IOC votes and help South Korea’s latest campaign to host the Winter Games.

The South Korean government has said Lee will be a key figure in the bid from Pyeongchang, which is competing for the 2018 Games along with Munich and Annecy, France.

Pyeongchang is bidding for the third straight time after defeats for the 2010 and 2014 Games, which went to Vancouver and Sochi, Russia. The IOC will choose the 2018 host in 2011.

With Lee’s reinstatement, South Korea has two IOC members. The other is Moon Dae-sung.

“We are delighted to hear the news,” said Park Yang-chun, chairman of the Korean Olympic Committee’s international relations commission. “We are very pleased to hear of his reinstatement.”

Park said it was too early to determine Lee’s exact role in the Pyeongchang bid.

“One way or another he will join our bid,” he said. “There is nothing official yet. Mr. Lee will decide.”

Lee’s reinstatement follows the pattern of previous IOC ethics cases. French member Guy Drut was provisionally suspended in 2005 after being convicted in a party-financing trial. He was reinstated by the IOC a year later after being pardoned by then French President Jacques Chirac.

Lee stepped down in April 2008 after 20 years at the helm of the Samsung Group after being indicted in connection with losses at a Samsung affiliate and for tax evasion. He later was fined and sentenced to a suspended three-year prison term.

In Sunday’s ruling, the IOC ethics commission said Lee’s conduct “has tarnished the reputation of the Olympic movement” and violated the IOC’s ethical principles.

The IOC issued him with a “reprimand” and a five-year suspension from sitting on any commissions.

Asked how the committee could bring back a member who had been convicted of criminal charges, IOC spokesman Mark Adams said: “He has received two of the three strongest sanctions the IOC can give.”

The strongest sanction is expulsion.

will not be displayed