Samsung chief gets early release from prison

Feb 06, 2018, 13:58
Samsung chief gets early release from prison

Lee Jae-yong, (centre), vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, arrives at the Seoul High Court for a hearing in Seoul, South Korea, on Monday, February 5, 2018.

Lee, who had pled not guilty at trial, was convicted previous year of paying millions of dollars in bribes to a confidante of impeached former president Park Geun-hye in order to win favor for a merger between group companies.

Prosecutors said they would appeal the court's ruling, making it nearly certain the case will go to the Supreme Court, the final court of appeal in South Korea.

The appeal court said Lee was unable to reject the then-president's request to financially support her confidante and was coerced into making the payments.

Former President Park, who continues to deny any wrongdoing, is on trial for bribery, coercion and abuse of power.

"If he were found innocent or had received a suspended prison term, it would have flipped out the entire country", Mr Chung said before the ruling. "I will look at things more carefully from now on".

"If South Korean tradition holds, Jay Lee will get a pardon for his value to the economy", Cain said.

Samsung group heir Jay Y Lee has sentence suspended following corruption scandal.

On Monday, Seoul High Court slashed Lee's sentence to two and a half years and also suspended it.

Lee has served as the de facto head of Samsung since his father, the company chair, was incapacitated by a heart attack in 2014.

- Lee Kun-hee, Samsung Group chairman and Lee's father, was convicted twice: once for tax evasion in 2008 and for bribery in 1996.

"All citizens hoped that the ruling would help sever collusive ties between politics and business, and herald the start of a new Republic of Korea", Park Wan-joo, the party's spokesman, told reporters.

Lee had originally been sentenced to five years in prison in August.

BBC News also points out that there are likely to be political implications to this move, because of the link between Lee and the former president.

Counsel to Lee expressed his "respect for the court's courage and wisdom to give a not guilty verdict of key charges".

Samsung was accused of paying 43bn won ($36.4m; £30.3m) to two non-profit foundations operated by the former president's friend and confidante Choi Soon-si in exchange for political favors.

"Power-business collusion is not found here", the judge said. Another circus trial has concluded as most believed it would.

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