Samsung heir jailed for corruption in blockbuster trial

Sprawling corruption scandal has rocked South Korea

Lee was accused of offering $38 million in bribes to four entities controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a long-time friend of Park, in exchange for government help with a merger that strengthened Lee's control over Samsung after his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

Samsung Electronics Co. remained silent after a local court sentenced its Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong to five years in prison on Friday, with industry watchers expecting the company to face numerous business uncertainties.

"When a public servant conspires with a non-public servant to receive bribes and the non-public servant, who is an accomplice, takes the bribes, it is the same as the public servant taking it", the judge Kim Jin-dong said, referring to the Park-Choi relationship.

Prosecutors have demanded a 12-year jail sentence for Lee, who also faces charges of embezzlement and perjury - potentially the longest prison term given to a South Korean business leader. Lee has been accused of offering bribes of 38 million United States dollars for various departments after the death of his father.

In 2015, US hedge fund Elliot Management filed for an injunction against the merger of two Samsung units created to cement a power transfer to the heir apparent of Samsung Group from his ailing father Lee Kun-hee, who has been bedridden since May 2014 due to a heart attack.

Samsung Electronics shares dropped 1.96% to 2,351,000 won on Monday, after falling 1.05% in the previous session.

"Park was actively and considerably involved in Choi using the foundations as a means to pursue her personal interests", he said.

Lee's attorneys immediately said they would appeal, and experts said it would likely go all the way to the country's supreme court.

The party chief expressed the hope that the case may act as an opportunity for Samsung to become a socially responsible company.

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.

The ruling in Lee's case can be appealed twice.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun delivered an official statement to staff on August 28 on the latest verdict on the firm's heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong, urging workers to continue giving best efforts. Some were pardoned and others got sentences reduced on appeal.

Out of 43.3 billion won - the total amount of the money which the special counsel viewed as paid or promised by Samsung Group - the court acknowledged only 8.92 billion won as a bribe.

"Samsung Electronics Vice-Chairman Kwon Oh Hyun is expected to contribute to minimizing the leadership vacuum for the time being".

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