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Samsung heir gets prison term for bribery scandal


A South Korean court has sentenced Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y Lee to two and a half years in prison, the court said on Monday, 18 January.

Lee, 52, was convicted of bribing an associate of former President Park Geun-hye and jailed for five years in 2017. He denied wrongdoing and the sentence was reduced and suspended on appeal, and he was released after serving a year.

The Supreme Court then sent the case back to the Seoul High Court, which issued Monday’s ruling.

Samsung was accused of paying 43bn won ($37.7m; £26.7m) to two non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Park’s, in exchange for political support alleged to include backing for a controversial Samsung merger which paved the way for Lee to become eventual head of the conglomerate. The deal needed support from the government-run national pension fund.

According to BBC, charges against Lee included bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury all of which he denied, saying Samsung did not want anything in return.

With this sentence Lee will be sidelined from major decision making at Samsung Electronics as it strives to overtake competitors, and from overseeing the process of inheritance from his father, who died in October, crucial to keeping control of Samsung.

Under South Korean law, only a jail term of three years or fewer can be suspended. For longer sentences, the person must serve out the term barring a presidential pardon. With Lee returning to jail, the year he already served in detention is expected to count toward the sentence.

Monday’s sentencing can be appealed to the supreme court, but because the supreme court has already ruled on it once, chances are lower that is legal interpretation will change, legal experts said.

“In a case sent back by the supreme court, there is a narrower range of options for the judges’ bench but it’s also true that the supreme court can’t really touch the final court’s sentencing, said Rha Seung-chul, a lawyer connected with the case.



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