​Samsung heir appeals five-year prison sentence

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong has filed an appeal following the five-year prison term he was handed last week.

A defence lawyer for Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong has filed an appeal against the five-year prison term he was given last week after being found guilty of offering bribes to the country's former president, and other charges.

The Seoul Central District Court's website did not give any details about the appeal, which will be assigned to a higher court.

The lawyer for Lee has steered media inquiries to Samsung, whose spokeswoman did not have any immediate comment about the appeal against the sentence handed down on Friday.

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

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

In addition to bribery, the court said on Friday, Lee -- the 49-year-old heir to one of the world's biggest corporate empires -- was guilty of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealing profit from criminal acts, and perjury.

The sentencing of the billionaire was a watershed for South Korea's decades-long economic order, which has been dominated by powerful, family-run conglomerates.

Lee was initially detained in February on charges that he bribed then-president Park Geun-hye to help secure control of the conglomerate that owns Samsung Electronics, the world's leading smartphone and chip maker.

The court said on Friday that Lee hoped bribes for Park at the time she was president and her close friend Choi Soon-sil would secure government support for a merger that strengthened Lee's control at a crucial time.

Samsung has consistently denied the charges since Lee's arrest, saying the payments to the Choi-controlled foundations were for public good and to help sporting organisations.

However, the judge said Lee likely knew the foundation was "not a conventional one" and that the payments would be spent to buy horses for Choi's equestrian daughter.

The judge also said that the vice chairman and his lieutenants would have known that the payments would be helpful in the merger that saw Lee's control increase.

The payments were made through Samsung Electronics to Germany, therefore it accounted for embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

The judge accepted that around $7 million was proven as bribes, with the vice chairman named "the biggest beneficiary" of the bribes. His top two lieutenants were each sentenced to four years for making the decisions.

The sentence handed down to Lee will also play a part in Park's trial, with Park likely to face a prison sentence herself.

Under Korean law, Lee can be kept in detention a maximum of four months while a court considers his appeal.

With AAP

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