Economy, Sci & Tech

Samsung Heir Found Guilty, Gets 5 Years

Lee Jae-yong has been accused of offering $38 million in bribes to four entities.Lee Jae-yong has been accused of offering $38 million in bribes to four entities.

Billionaire Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong has been sentenced to five years in prison by a court in South Korea for bribery and other crimes which fed public anger and led to the ousting of president Park Geun-hye.

The closely-watched verdict is the latest convulsion in a political scandal which prompted millions of South Koreans to protest last autumn, culminating in the ousting and arrest of Park, Press Association reported on Friday.

Seoul central district court said on Friday that the 49-year-old was guilty of offering bribes to the former leader and her close friend to get government support for efforts to cement his control over the Samsung empire.

A panel of three judges also found him guilty of embezzling Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas, concealing profit from criminal acts and perjury. Prosecutors had sought a 12-year prison term.

The verdict is a stunning downfall for a princeling of South Korea’s richest family which controls one of the world’s largest consumer electronics companies.

Lee was accused of offering $38 million in bribes to four entities controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Park, in exchange for government help with a merger that strengthened Lee’s control over Samsung at a crucial time.

Samsung has not denied transferring corporate funds. But Lee, vice chairman at Samsung Electronics and the Samsung founder’s grandson, claimed innocence during the court hearing.

He said he was unaware of the foundations or the donations, which were overseen by other executives.


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