November 19 - Pyeongchang 2018 have asked the South Korean Government to pardon Lee Kun-hee (pictured), the former Samsung Group chairman whose conviction for tax fraud has led to him being suspended as member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), so he can help lead their campaign to host the Winter Games.


Kim Jin-sun, the Governor of Gangwon and a co-head of the Pyeongchang bidding committee, revealed that he would ask the Government to grant Lee a special pardon and absolve him of a conviction for illegal bond transactions.


Lee's case is currently being reviewed by the IOC Ethics Commission, who will decide whether to restore him as a member of expel him from the organisation.


Kim said: "It's now up to the IOC whether to reinstate Lee as a member.


"And it’d be best for the Korean Government to grant him a pardon before the IOC reviews Lee's case.


"He is an important figure in Korean sports."


Lee was sentenced to a three-year suspended jail term and was fined 110 billion won (£57.3 million) for illegal bond dealings.


In October 2008, he was found guilty of tax evasion, and Lee then voluntarily rescinded his rights and duties as an IOC member.


Lee, a member of the IOC since 1996, stepped down as Samsung’s chairman in April last year.


Lee's home and office were raided by the Korean police in January 2008 during an ongoing probe into accusations that Samsung had been responsible for a slush fund used to bribe influential prosecutors, judges, and political figures in South Korea


Lee said: "I am responsible for everything.


"I will assume full moral and legal responsibility." 


But with a family fortune estimated at $3.4 billion (£2 billion), his family remain one of the richest in South Korea.


Lee had played crucial roles in previous Pyeongchang bids, particularly in 2003 when they had nearly caused a major shock by beating the overwhelming favourites Vancouver at the IOC Session in Prague.


The South Koreans fell only a few votes short as they polled 53 to the Canadian cities 56.


They also came close to winning the Games when the vote for the 2014 Olympics was held in Guatemala City in 2007, narrowly losing 51-47 to Sochi, who were backed by then Russian President Vladimir Putin.



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