Billionaire Samsung heir convicted in mega bribery case

by Susie Olson August 26, 2017, 1:20
Billionaire Samsung heir convicted in mega bribery case

Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee has been sentenced to five years in prison, after being found guilty by a Seoul court of bribery and other charges, reports the Korea Times. However, the court found that he had offered $38 million to four foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president, which curried him enough favour to illegally access classified government documents.

Lee was also convicted of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury.

The verdict is the latest convulsion in a political scandal that prompted millions of South Koreans to protest last autumn, culminating in the removal and arrest of Park as well as the arrests of Choi and Lee. Lawyers from Samsung said they will appeal. They were also found guilty of embezzlement as some funds that went to Choi's funds and daughter came from the corporate coffers.

There had been pressure on the court to convict Lee, amid public anger in the face of the corruption scandal, which people believe symbolises an unfair and unjust society that only benefits the most powerful in the country. The case is expected to be appealed all the way up to the Supreme Court, likely next year.

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Lee had denied all the charges, and the sentence is well short of the 12 years sought by prosecutors.

"As a legal professional, I can not possibly accept any part of the lower court's guilty verdicts, in terms of interpretation of law and finding of facts", said Wu-cheol Song, Lee's lead defence attorney, in a statement issued to MobileSyrup. She and Choi are both now on trial. Further, the move expanded his power over Samsung Electronics, the division in charge of its phones, TVs and other devices, which is considered the chaebol's top earner. The five-year sentence is one of the longest prison terms given to a business leader in South Korean history.

Samsung shares had dropped 1.5 percent after the verdict was announced. Lee's conviction could signal a more hard-line approach to the actions of the countries conglomerates.

"Our ultimate goal is President Park Geun-hye's acquittal and release", Kim Won-joon, a 62-year-old former construction worker said after the court ruling.

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