SEOUL — Picasso, Monet and Dalí are among the assets South Korea’s richest family is parting with as it prepares to pay one of the largest inheritance tax bills in history.
The Samsung family announced on Wednesday that it would pay $10.8 billion in inheritance taxes after the death of Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s chairman, last year. South Korea has one of the highest inheritance taxes in the world. The family is required to inform the tax authorities of how it plans to pay the bill by Friday.
The answer will have deep implications for the family’s control of the company, the biggest and most profitable family-run conglomerate in South Korea.
Mr. Lee was credited with turning Samsung into a global tech giant known for its semiconductors and smartphones. But the reclusive chairman kept many secrets, including how he wanted to split his wealth among his wife and three children after he died.
imprisoned after being sentenced to two and half years for bribery. In recent weeks, business lobbying groups have appealed to the government to pardon Lee Jae-yong so that he could lead Samsung amid growing uncertainty in the semiconductor industry.
Today in Business
“It is our civic duty and responsibility to pay all taxes,” the Lees said on Wednesday in a statement.
The family has not always abided by that rule.
Samsung has long faced accusations of trying to secure a father-son transfer of power at all costs, even if that meant breaking laws, avoiding taxes and buying political influence. It’s a problem that Lee Jae-yong has acknowledged himself.
“All of the problems basically started from this succession issue,” he said last year. “From now on, I will make sure that no controversy happens again regarding the succession issue.”
secretly inherited from his father, the Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull. He hid the money in stock accounts opened in the names of his aides. Samsung at the time said Lee Kun-hee had kept the secret funds to protect the company from hostile takeovers from foreign investors.
Lee Jae-yong’s legal trouble stemmed from a similar problem. In January, he was convicted of bribing South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye to obtain government support for a merger of two Samsung subsidiaries in 2015. The merger was meant to tighten his control over Samsung.