Samsung Chief to Appeal 5-Year Prison Sentence

The Korean-language message from Samsung Electronics' chief executive, Kwon Oh-hyun, which urged employees to continue to work hard and not be distracted, came just three days after a Seoul court sentenced Lee Jae-yong, the company's vice chairman and the Samsung heir, to five years in prison for bribing South Korea's former president.

Lee denied wrongdoing, and his lawyers say the 2015 merger was done on business merits.

He was detained in February following charges that he bribed former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, with the goal of securing control of the conglomerate that owns Samsung Electronics.

The court also said the amount included $6.4 million to sponsor the equestrian career of Choi's daughter.

Lee, the successor of South Korea's richest family and its biggest company, had been accused of offering $38m (£30m) in bribes to four entities controlled by Choi, to whom Park often turned for advice and allegedly gave access to government documents even though she did not have security clearance.

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Lee was the only one of the leaders of 16 conglomerates to be indicted on charges related to the coercion of funds for the Mir and K-Sports foundations, which was the primary cause behind Park's expulsion by the Constitutional Court in March. Lee's attorney Song Woo-chul said, "I can not accept the ruling either from a legal standpoint or in consideration of the facts and will appeal immediately".

A hasty attempt to trade Chung's horse for another to hide the paper trail when the scandal unraveled in autumn past year was ruled as aiding Choi's attempts to conceal criminal proceeds.

Samsung, founded in 1938 by Lee's grandfather, is a household name in South Korea and a symbol of the country's dramatic rise from poverty following the 1950-53 Korean War. Two other executives received suspended prison terms. The trials are now being carried out separately, but given that these charges are two sides of the same coin, the judges assigned to the Park case can't help but take this judgement into consideration.

"We are confident the ruling will be overturned", lawyer Song Wu-cheol told reporters after the ruling by the Seoul Central District Court.

Lee joined the Samsung Electronics board in October 2016 around the time of the launch of the company's Galaxy Note 7 smartphone model that continually caught fire and resulted in a subsequent termination of the model. Twice convicted of tax evasion and bribery, the elder Lee never spent any time in prison. Last year, the American hedge fund demanded Samsung Electronics' conversion into a holding company and listing on NASDAQ along with a special dividend worth 30 trillion won. Some were pardoned and others got sentences reduced on appeal.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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