Samsung Heir Lee Jae-yong Jailed for Five Years for Corruption

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A South Korean court has sentenced acting chairman of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, to five years in prison after finding him guilty of issuing bribes and attempting to exert his position to influence political matters.

The Seoul Central District Court said Samsung's financial support of entities backed by Park's close friend, Choi Soon-sil, constituted bribery, including 7.2 billion won ($6.4 million) in sponsoring the equestrian career of Choi's daughter.

Lee, who was arrested in February, is the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world's largest smartphone maker.

A South Korean court has found Samsung vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong guilty of corruption. Alongside Lee, four other executives were convicted and charged; two with four year jail sentences and two received suspended sentences. The five-year sentence is one of the longest prison terms given to a business leader in South Korean history. He also laid some of the blame on Park, saying the former president made "aggressive demands" of Samsung.

In the wake of the corruption scandal - which led to the impeachment of Ms. Park - the current president, Moon Jae-in, campaigned on holding South Korea's corporate empires to account.

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Samsung's biggest task now will be to manage its vast business, which accounts for about one-fifth of South Korea's exports, without the "crown prince of the Lee family at the helm", notes The New York Times.

Driven by their belief of Park's innocence over a scandal that brought her down, many protesters, mostly older women and men, turned out for Lee, whose conviction, they believe, would nearly certainly mean a guilty verdict for Park in her trial.

The company will have a prolonged absence of leadership following this conviction, a situation that could impact the electronic giant's future in the tough game.

"The essence of this case is the unethical bond between politics and money", said Judge Kim Jin-dong.

Sources said that the case may end up being decided in the apex court of the country next year and Yong's lawyers are expected to appeal to this judgement. Lee's father was twice convicted and twice pardoned.



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