Samsung heir Lee expected to make efforts to regain public confidence

Lee Jae-yong vice chairman of Samsung Electronics speaks before leaving a detention center in Uiwang South Korea

Lee Jae-yong vice chairman of Samsung Electronics speaks before leaving a detention center in Uiwang South Korea

Following a corruption scandal that led to the removal of the former president Park Geun-hye, a lower court jailed Lee for two and a half years.

His sentencing confirmed what had always been suspected: links between the nation's most successful and renowned company and the country's government. In its decision on Lee's appeal, the court vacated or diminished some charges.

The Seoul High Court sentenced Lee to 30 months behind bars, reducing the original sentencing by 50% and suspended the previous court's sentence that included embezzlement and bribery of four years, which means he will not have to serve any further time as long as he stays on the straight and narrow. Samsung lawyers will reportedly take Lee Jae-yong's case to the Supreme Court to clear his name while prosecutors may also appeal.

"This is a case where Ms Park intimidated Samsung's management and her friend pursued personal interests", the court said in the ruling.

Four former Samsung executives charged alongside Lee will hear their verdicts in the same courtroom. Lee's father was prosecuted on charges of bribery and tax evasion, who later received a presidential pardon.

"The ruling could help Samsung recover its confidence and gain direction", said Bae Sang-kun, a senior official at the federation.

Similarly, his grandfather Lee Byung-Chull, who founded Samsung ("Three Stars") as a trading company in 1938, was engulfed in a huge case of smuggling involving his fertiliser manufacturing subsidiary in 1966.

The appeal court said there was no corporate succession issue at stake, rejecting the lower court's view. The piece dismissed arguments from Samsung and conservative media that Lee's imprisonment would damage South Korea's entire economy as "inflated and farfetched", citing Samsung Electronics' recent record quarterly earnings and stock split.

This happened at a time that the Lee family, which maintains control of the Samsung behemoth through a complicated set of cross-shareholdings, was seeking approval for a crucial merger that would enable the family to pass control from Lee's father, who has been hospitalized in a coma since May 2014, to Lee Jae-yong.

It is unclear how big of a role he will now play in Samsung's future.

The bribery amount - which prosecutors said was over $30 million and of which the judge of the district court accepted $7 million - was mostly rejected in the appellate court. The court said that this wasn't a typical example of the "cozy relationship between politics and business", adding that there was no evidence that the defendants had requested or gained benefits from offering a bribe to Park.

Choi is in custody on charges of meddling in state affairs without holding a government position and using her connections with the president to extort vast sums of money from many of South Korea's best-known companies.

Recommended News

We are pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news.
Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper.
Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.