Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong Sentenced To 5 Year Prison Term For Corruption
Lee Jae-yong, the son of Samsung’s ailing chairman and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics has been found guilty of perjury, embezzlement, and bribery in South Korea. The presumed heir to the Samsung empire was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday, which was shorter than the 12-year prison sentence prosecutors had sought for.
Lee was arrested in February and was found guilty by a three-judge panel of Seoul Central District Court. Along with the Lee, four other Samsung executives were accused of offering bribes to former South Korean president Park Geun-hye. Prosecutors alleged that Lee and the other executives gave 43.3 billion won (approximately $38 million) in bribes to Park in exchange for government support for a merger that helped him tighten control over Samsung. The court also found Lee guilty of perjury for falsely testifying at a parliamentary hearing on the scandal, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas. Contrary to which, Lee Jae-yong denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers are expected to appeal the verdict. Regardless, the court stated that there was sufficient evidence to prove prosecutors’ charges.
Judge Kim Jin-dong said “The essence of this case is the unethical bond between politics and money,” and “I hope that power will be used to serve all people and that big businesses will act with social responsibility, through legal economic activities.”
Although, the Samsung chief was found guilty in today’s verdict, it doesn’t necessarily scuttle his chances for succeeding his father. But, due to the Chinese tradition of “filial piety”, the role of chairman may not pass down to Lee Jae-yong until his 75-year-old incapacitated father passes away.
Samsung has recently bounced back from what was a slow year in 2016 due to recalls involving its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, and had success with the Samsung Galaxy S8 and S8+ and the newly launched Galaxy Note 8, but the criminal conviction of Samsung’s chief is a blow for the company and is bound to impact the smartphone maker’s credibility and reputation on the business side of things, if not consumer.