Samsung's heir gets sentenced to 5 years in jail for corruption

Samsung's heir gets sentenced to 5 years in jail for corruption

Former Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin was given a suspended three-year jail term, while the court gave a suspended sentence of two-and-half year in prison to Hwang Sung-soo, the company's former executive director, on the same charges. However, things could have been worse for the tycoon as prosecutors campaigned for a 12-year sentence.

Prosecutors say the money was in return for policy favours including government support for Lee's hereditary succession at the group, after his father was left bedridden by a heart attack in 2014.

The ruling comes six months after Lee was arrested for bribery and embezzlement. Lee's grandfather Lee Kun-hee, who founded the company nearly 80 years ago, was also convicted of embezzling money and evading taxes. The company also fears that if Lee is convicted by the Supreme Court, he may fall under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in the United States, which could make Samsung Electronics face colossal losses from contract cancellations and penalty payment among others. He was convicted of tax evasion in 2008 but given a three-year suspended prison sentence and a 110 billion won (now $98 million) fine, and was pardoned the following year by business-friendly then-president Lee Myung-Bak.

Samsung is a family owned and controlled conglomerate called a chaebol that was integral to the growth and development of South Korea's industrial prowess.

Lee is accused of giving W43.3 billion in bribes to ex-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil (US$1=W1,129).

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The trial of the century started all the way back in winter when the Samsung Electronics heir was charged with bribery, among other things, in a scandal that swept the nation.

Not long after the court issued its sentence, representatives from Bae, Kim and Lee, the firm serving as Lee's defense team, said it would immediately appeal the decision.

According to reports, the sentence has effectively put an end to Lee's leadership role in the world's largest mobile phone maker. Lee's conviction is a blow to the Korean tech empire, whose shares saw a 1 percent drop after the court's ruling. The empire has a market capitalisation of about $395bn (£309bn). The Samsung scion, who golfed and traveled extensively to foster ties with tech executives, mostly kept a blank expression as the verdict was read. The index was little changed on Friday.

There is also potential for a destabilizing family feud over inheritance when the elder Lee dies. His father, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, was twice sentenced to prison - and twice pardoned.

Hundreds of rowdy, diehard Park supporters rallied outside the court earlier in the day to demand Lee's acquittal. The younger Lee's absence could lead to further empowerment of managers such as Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun, who oversees semiconductors; President JK Shin, who is in charge of mobile products; and President Yoon Boo-keun, who runs the consumer appliances business.