Mounting Division Over Samsung Heir Verdict

29 August, 2017, 00:25 | Author: Darrell Baldwin
  • Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong will appeal against his five year jail sentence for bribery

The conviction of Samsung Group's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong bodes ill for former President Park Geun-hye, who is on trial for receiving bribes from Lee, observers said Monday.

Lee was also convicted of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealing criminal profits and perjury.

The Seoul Central District Court said that Lee, 49, was guilty of offering bribes to Park Geun-hye when she was South Korea's president, and to Park's close friend, to get government support for efforts to cement his control over the Samsung empire.

Samsung secretively provided a huge amount of money to Choi's Germany-based company that paid for the training and the exorbitantly priced foreign horses worth 3.6 billion won ($3.2 million) were part of the bribes, the verdict said.

Park, who was removed from office earlier this year as a result of the scandal, is also on trial, as is Choi. "Given that the coerced funds for the Mir and K-Sports foundations were the main reason the court chose to expel former President Park back in March, the burden on the Special Prosecutor in mounting a case for the appeals trial and on the prosecution [in charge of Park's indictment] has greatly increased", said one former Chief Prosecutor. Prosecutors earlier sought 12 years against Lee, claiming Samsung's de facto leader offered or pledged $38 million to win the state pension's approval for a merger between two affiliates under terms created to increase his control over the entire business empire.

A scandal which has re-shaped South Korean politics and rocked the country's elite - overshadowing even North Korean missile threats - began when reporters at CNN affiliate JTBC found a computer belonging to Choi Soon-sil late a year ago.




The court said Park "was aware that the succession of management control to Lee was a major issue at Samsung and demanded funding for [Choi's daughter] Chung Yoo-ra and a youth winter sports foundation in a private meeting". "We hope the high court will do better".

Lee Jae Yong's father, who remains Samsung chairman, was previously convicted of bribery, tax and other offences himself, and the scion's grandfather also had brushes with the law, but neither was ever jailed.

"No politicians have been really free from collusive ties with chaebols", said Park. Lee has two sisters, but neither has been heavily involved in Samsung Electronics, which is widely regarded as the center of the Samsung empire.

Samsung has not denied transferring corporate funds.

Other former Samsung executives charged with Lee were also found guilty.

The ruling in Lee's case can be appealed twice. Among those 10 giants, the leaders of six have been convicted of white-collar crimes, with many being pardoned or having had their sentences commuted.

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