Samsung chairman Lee Kun-Hee resigns over tax scandal
Samsung chairman Lee Kun-Hee has announced his shock resignation after becoming embroiled in a tax-evasion scandal.
In a statement, Samsung said four other executives, including Mr Lee's son and heir Lee Jae-yong, would also step down by the end of June.
The resignations were sparked by a government investigation that has found accounting irregularities within the South Korean firm.
In a live televised address, Mr Lee said: "Today, I have decided to step down from the Samsung group chairmanship. I express my deepest apologies for causing great concern to the public as a result of the special probe."
Mr Lee has controlled Samsung for 20 years and has survived previous scandals, including a conviction on bribery charges.
However, the latest charges of tax evasion and breach of trust could lead to a lengthy prison sentence.
Samsung Group has interests in a wide variety of businesses including electronics, shipbuilding and construction.
Although the news was welcomed by some as a signal that the family-run business empire may become more transparent as a result, others were concerned over the potential impact to the economy.
Its companies are estimated to account for up to 20 per cent of South Korea's exports and employ 200,000 people.