Jae-yong started working for Samsung in 1991. He began serving as Vice President of Strategic Planning and then as "Chief Customer Officer", a management position created exclusively for Lee. His prospects for Future company leadership dimmed when his Father Kun-hee stepped down as Chairman due to tax evasion. In December 2009, however, his succession prospects revived when Lee became the Chief Operating Officer of Samsung Electronics. Since December 2012, he has been Vice Chairman of Samsung. He is one of the main shareholders of Samsung's financial services subsidiary, owning 11 percent of Samsung SDS.
He has one son and one daughter with his ex-wife Lim Se-ryung, whom he divorced in 2009. Lee enjoys golf and horseback riding.
Subsequent to his arrest, Samsung admitted to making contributions to two non-profit foundations allegedly controlled by Choi and her Germany-based firm, but denied such contributions were related to the 2015 merger. A spokesman for Samsung said: “We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in Future court proceedings.” On February 28, 2017, the Wall Street Journal reported that "South Korean prosecutors said they would indict the Samsung conglomerate’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery and four other offenses." It was reported on August 7, 2017, that prosecutors demanded a twelve-year sentence for Lee. On August 25th, Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to 5 years in jail. He will now be in prison pending a trial in the appellate court.
In February 2018, Jay Y. Lee was freed from jail after a South Korean court suspended his five year jail term for bribing ex-president, Park Geun-hye.