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Published: Sat, August 26, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Samsung heir handed five-year prison sentence in corruption case

Samsung heir handed five-year prison sentence in corruption case

A South Korean court has sentenced Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong also known as Jay Y. Lee to five years in jail in a bribery case. However, the court found that he had offered $38 million to four foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president, which curried him enough favour to illegally access classified government documents. Moreover, Lee was accused of embezzlement and hiding assets overseas but he denied all charges.

One of Lee's lawyers said he would appeal the ruling and that he was confident his client's innocence would be affirmed by a higher court. Lee was arrested earlier this year after Samsung's involvement in President Park Geun-hye's scandals came to light. "As Samsung executives, they had a great deal of negative impact on society and the economy". He was found guilty of bribery, embezzlement & perjury, reports the NY Times.

South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, who replaced the Park after a May 9 election, has pledged to rein in the chaebols, empower minority shareholders and end the practice of pardoning corporate tycoons convicted of white-collar crime.

But since Lee's father Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in 2014, he has been considered to run the Samsung empire.

Samsung, one of the companies credited with helping rebuild war-torn South Korea, is now assumed to be neck-deep in corruption. Alongside Lee, four other executives were convicted and charged; two with four year jail sentences and two received suspended sentences. The appeal is expected to make its way through South Korea's legal structure, all the way to the Supreme Court, though that's not likely to happen until sometime in 2018. The same investigation that led to the impeachment of former-president Park Geun-hye. Park was impeached back in May for her involvement.

Samsung secretively provided a huge amount of money to Choi's German-based company that paid for the training and exorbitantly priced foreign horses worth 3.6 billion won (£2.5 million) were part of the bribes, the verdict said.

Samsung shares have risen by 30 percent so far in 2017. This five year sentence is among the longest sentences given to a business leader.

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