Economy

Samsung heir faces nine years imprisonment for corruption

Samsung Group’s heir Jay Y. Lee appears in court.

REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji / File Photo

In a reopened corruption lawsuit against the heir to the Samsung corporate empire in South Korea, Lee Jae Yong, the prosecutor has demanded nine years’ imprisonment for the accused. South Korean broadcaster and the national news agency Yonhap reported that the prosecution highlighted the great power of the largest conglomerate in the country in its plea on the last day of the trial at the Seoul High Court on Wednesday. The group was therefore accused of evading its social responsibility. 52-year-old Lee is vice chairman of smartphone market leader Samsung Electronics.

The background to the proceedings is a corruption affair involving the former South Korean President Park Geun Hye and her long-time confidante Choi Soon Sil. Park was removed from the highest state office in March 2017. Samsung is said to have paid large sums of money to the controversial park friend’s company and to their relatives, and in return received political support for the merger of two group subsidiaries. Almost 30 billion won (22.5 million won) in bribes are said to have flowed.

Samsung heir Lee was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017

Lee regretted his behavior in court and promised to create “a new Samsung,” reported the Yonhap news agency. Lee had previously denied the bribery allegations. The verdict is expected next month.

Lee was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017. A year later, an appellate body downgraded his sentence to suspended sentence and Lee was released. However, the Seoul Supreme Court later dismissed large parts of the verdict, so Lee had to return to the dock. Separate from the trial, Lee and two former executives are under investigation into allegations of stock price manipulation and auditing violations. Lee is the son of former CEO Lee Kun Hee, who died in October.

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