Domenica, 24 Settembre, 2017

Samsung heir jailed for five years on corruption charges

Lee Jae-yong leaving the court Friday after his conviction Lee Jae-yong leaving the court Friday after his conviction
Sveva Terracina | 25 Agosto, 2017, 15:58

On Friday, the resulting scandal claimed its latest scalp, as a court jailed Lee Jae-yong, the heir to mega-conglomerate Samsung, for five years on bribery and corruption charges.

The prosecution also claimed that Lee attempted to hide criminal proceeds in the process of purchasing horses for Choi's daughter.

The defence had denied the charges, saying Samsung was pressured by Park to make the donations under duress - and that Lee was not aware of them and did not approve them.

The verdict on Wednesday makes it likely that Park, who was arrested in March and charged on 18 counts, including accepting bribes, may also be found guilty.

Lee Jae-yong, heir apparent and de facto chief of global electronics giant Samsung, was jailed on Friday for five years.

Samsung has also been refraining from making changes in executive posts since the hospitalization of Lee Kun-hee, the head of the Samsung empire, in 2014. Lee, who was represented by a team of 28 lawyers, has always professed his innocence and will appeal the sentence.

The court ruled that 7.3 billion won paid for the overseas equestrian training of the daughter of Park's long-time friend Choi Soon-Sil, and another 1.6 billion won funneled to Choi's niece, constituted bribes.


Lee's conviction bodes ill for Park as prosecutors have argued she and Lee participated in the same act of bribery.

"He was stumbling, stammering, unsure of the basic functions of his own company and its offices", said Geoffrey Cain, the author of an upcoming book on Samsung.

The sentencing comes at a critical time for Samsung Electronics, the most valuable part of the empire.

Prosecutors had sought a 12-year prison term for the 49-year-old Lee. It was alleged that these favours were created to win government support for a company restructuring and strengthen Lee's control over Samsung.

Lee allegedly offered $38m (£30m) in bribes to four entities controlled by Choi, to whom Park often turned for advice on policy, including Seoul's strategy for dealing with the threat from North Korean missiles. Park is accused of pressuring South Korea's national pension service to support the deal.

While he wouldn't be the first business leader to have served his time at Uijeongbu prison, Lee's wealth and status would count for little. The younger Lee's absence could lead to further empowerment of managers such as Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun, who oversees semiconductors; President JK Shin, who is in charge of mobile products; and President Yoon Boo-keun, who runs the consumer appliances business.

Those investments are paying off. Samsung, the world's largest maker of memory chips for servers, mobile devices and computers, was the biggest beneficiary of supply constraints and explosive demand for mobile devices that pushed up prices.

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