South Korea is home to some of the biggest companies on the planet. With immensely successful businesses come immensely wealthy people. Entrepreneurs who make bold business decisions and then reap the benefits.
Samsung is South Korea’s best export. It’s one of the world’s leading technology companies. The conglomerate also has interests in dozens of other industries. So you can expect that the person at the very top will have quite deep pockets.
Lee Jae-yong could actually have been even richer
The Bloomberg Billionaires Index lists the 500 richest people in the world. Samsung Vice Chairman and de facto leader Lee Jae-yong now occupies the 170th spot on the list. He’s estimated to have $12.6 billion in assets.
This makes Lee Jae-yong the richest person in South Korea. This title was previously held by his father, Lee Kun-hee, who passed away in October last year. The junior Lee’s assets have increased significantly after he inherited his father’s shares in various companies of the Samsung Group. The total shares in affiliates including Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDS that he inherited are worth around $5.3 billion.
The inheritance did come at a significant cost to the Lee family. South Korea imposes hefty taxes on inheritance. The family was required to settle a massive tax bill before it could inherit Lee Kun-hee’s estate. The total inheritance tax owed to the government is an eye-watering $10.8 billion, the largest-ever in South Korea.
The family is going to pay the full amount in six instalments over a period of five years. It hasn’t been disclosed how the tax bill is going to be distributed among the heirs of Lee Kun-hee.
If South Korea’s inheritance taxes weren’t so high, Lee Jae-yong’s net worth would have been considerably more, not just $12.6 billion.