Samsung Electronics leader gets 2.5-year sentence in bribery retrial

Lee Jae-yong has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison at the retrial for his bribery case.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Samsung Electronics' de facto leader and vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong, on Monday was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a court in Seoul over bribery charges.

Lee was found guilty by the Seoul High Court for bribing former president Park Geun-hye and her aide to gain government support for a merger between two Samsung affiliates that increased his control over the conglomerate.

He was immediately taken into custody after the hearing to start his prison sentence.

Lee was sentenced to five years in prison back in 2017 for the same charges by a district court. He was then freed in 2018, however, after an appellate court handed down a suspended sentence of two and a half years.

In 2019, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial as it believed the appellate court wrongly dismissed some of the charges that were put against Lee. The Supreme Court said the three horses and other favours given by Lee and Samsung executives to Park amounted to bribes worth 8.6 billion won ($7 million).

At the retrial, Lee's lawyers had highlighted his effort and those of Samsung to follow the law by forming a compliance committee.

In May last year, Samsung's de facto leader also issued a televised apology for the conglomerate's involvement in the scandal, admitting that the charges of unethical activities were caused by a "succession problem" and promised such activities had been put to rest.

But the Seoul High Court doubted the effectiveness of such a committee and said it was not a factor during its decision making process.

Separately, Lee is also under trial for alleged stock price manipulation over the merger of the two Samsung affiliates.

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