Do you own a Samsung Galaxy phone? Looking for a new game app to download? How about Family Feud?
South Korea’s richest family is embroiled in a huge sibling estate fight according to a recent story in the Wall Street Journal.
The chair of Samsung Electronics Lee Kun- hee is being sued in two separate actions by his eldest brother Lee Maeng- hee and his elder sister Lee Sook- hee for 714 billion South Korean won and 196 billion won respectively ( a total of approximately
$ 810 million) . Lee Kun-Hee is the richest man in South Korea, according to the 2010 Forbes Rich List, with a personal fortune of $7.2 billion.
The dispute centers around shares in Samsung Life, a public company. Samsung Life is one of several affiliates that has holdings in Samsung Electronics, the largest company in Asia by revenue.
The siblings’ father Lee Byung-chull founded Samsung in 1938. When he died in 1987, his third son, the defendant Lee Kun- hee took over as Chairman of the Samsung empire. The lawsuit filed by his older brother alleges that their late father placed shares and assets in a trust in the name of non-heirs and that these assets should have been divided among the heirs in accordance with South Korean law. The Plaintiffs are alleging that their younger brother secretly hid these assets from them.
According to the WSJ, some industry watchers believe the seeds for the fights were planted decades ago when the siblings’ father ignored Confucian tradition that holds family fortunes and businesses should pass first to the eldest son.
The dispute between the sibling heirs to the Samsung empire underscores the importance of succession planning and discussing your estate plan with your children.