Samsung Vice Chair Released From Jail On Appeal Against Bribery
06 February, 2018, 15:19 | Author: Elena Summers
Lee Jae-yong, heir to the Samsung conglomerate, walked free on Monday following an appeals court dilution of his five-year sentence in a case that was central to last year's overthrow of ex-President Park Geun-hye.
The appeals court halved Lee's sentence to two-and-a-half years, suspended for four years.
On August 25, a court found Lee guilty of embezzlement, bribery and perjury and sentenced him to five years in jail.
Mr Lee, who took over the running of the company after his father suffered a heart attack in 2014, was previous year charged with bribery, embezzlement hiding assets overseas along with four Samsung executives.
In the past, Korean judges have been lenient toward chaebol chairmen on the basis of their importance to the national economy.
Samsung posted record earnings during Lee's imprisonment thanks to its memory chip business, though it faces intense challenges from Chinese competitors.
Other charges against Lee, including the flight of assets overseas, were dropped by the appeals court that denied a charge against Lee who provided bribes in return for favors to inherit the management control from his ailing father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been hospitalized for nearly four years. Lee's grandfather, who had founded Samsung, was also investigating for a smuggling case, but was never prosecuted.
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"The ruling could help Samsung recover its confidence and gain direction", said Bae Sang-kun, a senior official at the federation.
Lee's initial sentence was halved and the remaining time he has not yet served was suspended.
Speaking in front of cameras in Seoul, Lee said his time behind bars had been a "really valuable" period of self-reflection.
Many South Koreans feel the chaebols and the government enjoy too cosy a relationship, and online postings showed that many had been pleased with the initial sentence of five years in jail as it marked a departure from rulings favouring white-collar criminals in South Korea.
Lee is now on probation for four years.
"They even have a term for it here, called jail management".
Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has declared that he won't run for South Korea's presidency. "I had neither the knowledge nor the competence to make decisions", Lee told the 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.
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