Samsung heir appeals jail sentence

The Seoul Central Court announced that 49-year old Lee Jae Yong was guilty for offering bribes to cement the control of Samsung in South Korea with the support of the government.

Mr Kwon now heads up the semiconductor sector - the most profitable of the electronics division - and has reportedly been leading Samsung affiliates since Lee was detained in February of this year. Other former top executives who advised Lee were also sent to prison or given suspended terms.

Samsung, founded in 1938, epitomises South Korea's economic resurgence after the Korean War in the 1950s.

Considered one of the world's largest smartphone and memory chip makers, the full effect of the verdict is yet to be fully seen.

Their quote references allegations that South Korean President Parks offered "repeated and aggressive" requests from Samsung. Park and Choi are also on trial.

Lee has denied any wrongdoing. "The essence of the case is unethical collusion between political power and capital", the court said in a statement.

Samsung Group headquarters in southern Seoul.

The ruling for Samsung Group's de facto chief is not yet final.

The decision will test whether Samsung can succeed without the crown prince of the Lee family at the helm. It is set to report its highest-ever earnings this year. Samsung accounts for about one fifth of the nation's exports. "It will be a disaster not just to an individual company but to the nation's economy". Samsung Electronics said it would invest $7 billion in expanding its NAND flash memory production lines in Xian, China for the next three years.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in's office, in a rare commentary on a court ruling, welcomed the ruling as a step toward rooting out corruption.

The dual moves on Monday appeared meant to send a message of steadiness and continuity as Samsung, one of the world's biggest technology companies, navigates a precarious period.

The scandal involving Park and Choi broke in October 2016. Lee, who has been in jail since he was arrested earlier this year, was led back into custody. She and Choi are both now on trial.

Lee's imprisonment as an "unprecedented challenge" and encouraged staff to continue working hard as they wait for "the truth to come to light".

However, prosecutors were initially seeking a sentence of 12 years, arguing that over $30 million was paid as bribes.

One such deal was a merger between Samsung's two subsidiaries, Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung C&T Corporation, which was expected to strengthen Lee's position within the Samsung Group. Lee has two sisters, but neither has been heavily involved in Samsung Electronics, which is widely regarded as the center of the Samsung empire. Judges rejected Samsung's argument.

Though she never held an official position, revelations showed that Choi Soon-sil was given advance access to presidential speeches and other documents. Lee was found not guilty on this charge, however. Twice convicted of tax evasion and bribery, the elder Lee never spent any time in prison.

Friday's lower court ruling has several aspects that open the way for an appeal, the criminal lawyers told Reuters.

It's nearly a rite of passage for the bosses of family-controlled South Korean conglomerates known as chaebol to go to prison for white collar crimes only to later make a comeback, AP points out. Among those 10 giants, the leaders of six have been convicted of white-collar crimes, with many being pardoned or having had their sentences commuted.

But Lee's case may be different because the public is increasingly unwilling to indulge the double standards long enjoyed by families who were lionised a generation ago for helping to turn South Korea into a manufacturing powerhouse.


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