Shortly after Elliott Management took a stake in Samsung and began agitating to blow it up like so many of its smartphones, the company’s heir went to jail for bribing South Korea’s president. But Korean prosecutors weren’t prepared to leave it at that. They wondered if they could put someone else in jail, namely Elliott Management, as a warning to those foreign activists who might want to come in and mess with any of the country’s other gigantic family-owned conglomerates with corporate governance issues, the chaebols, and maybe put their scions in jail.
Indeed, they had already been considering the matter even before Lee Jae-yong felt the cuffs. What if, prosecutors wondered, the meddlesome Paul Singer had to report Elliott’s boosting of its stake in a Samsung subsidiary within the required five days? OK, OK, so it actually did so in two days, but what if it were thinking about increasing the stake before that?
The financial regulator suspected that it knowingly withheld the information even though it was already expecting the stake increase from a total return swap (TRS) deal it had clinched weeks before.
Alas, it seems that buying swaps is not the same as buying stock under Korean law, much to the disappointment of those prosecutors.
The Seoul Southern District Prosecutors' Office decided not to indict the company because its probe has found no grounds to bring charges, they said.