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The heir to the Samsung empire bowed in apology Wednesday for company misconduct including a controversial plan for him to ascend to the leadership of the world's largest smartphone maker.

Lee Jae-yong is vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics and was jailed for five years in 2017 for bribery, embezzlement and other offences in connection with the scandal that brought down South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

The 51-year-old was released a year later on appeal but is currently undergoing a retrial.

"We are recognised for our top-class technology and products but the public eye towards Samsung is still critical," Lee said. "This is all because of our shortcomings. This has been my fault and I offer my sincere apology," he added.

He promised there would be "no more controversy" over his promotion, pledging: "I will never take any actions that go against the law."

Lee bowed three times before flashing cameras at a Samsung Electronics office in Seoul, where reporters sat apart under coronavirus distancing rules.

Speaking in steady tones and swallowing occasionally, Lee - whose grandfather founded the Samsung Group - said he would end the line of family succession.

"I do not plan to pass down my role to my children," he said. "This is something I have thought about for a long time but have been hesitant to express it openly." Wednesday's apology came at the request of Samsung's compliance committee, which oversees the firm's transparency in its corporate dealings.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2020

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