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Samsung heir released on suspended sentence in appeals trial

Society 05.02.2018 | 12:41
Photo: Yonhap
Photo: Yonhap

SEOUL, 5 February (BelTA – Yonhap) - Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was released Monday after an appellate court handed him a suspended sentence dismissing most of his key charges in a bribery and corruption scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye last year.

The Seoul High Court sentenced Lee to 2 1/2 years in prison with a stay of execution for four years. He was immediately freed from a nearly yearlong incarceration.

The scion of South Korea's biggest conglomerate was sentenced to five years in prison on Aug. 25 for giving 8.8 billion won (US$8.1 million) to Park and her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in return for government backing for the merger of two key Samsung units, a process that was deemed vital for his leadership succession.

Special Counsel Park Young-soo had demanded 12 years in prison for Lee. Lee and the prosecution both appealed the ruling.

Reversing the lower court's ruling, the appeals court did not acknowledge that leadership succession had been in place at Samsung as claimed by the prosecution. It found Samsung had thus no agenda for which it needed to make an "explicit or implicit request" to the former president, seeking government consent from the outset.

Lee, 50, was arrested on Feb. 17, 2017 and was indicted on five charges, including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas. The special counsel accused Lee of offering or promising 43.3 billion won to Park and Choi in the name of sponsoring the equestrian training of Choi's 22-year-old daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, a former dressage rider.

The lower court found him guilty on all five counts but acknowledged only part of the bribes and tossed the pledged amount that was never paid. Lee pled not guilty.

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