Head Of Samsung Group Accused Of Corruption Released From Jail After Court Reduces Sentence
Lee Jae-yong, heir to South Korea’s Samsung corporate empire, has been released from prison after an appeals court on Monday reduced the five-year sentence given to him for embezzlement and corruption charges, reports The New York Times. The court reduced Mr Lee’s sentence to two and a half years from five and suspended it, meaning that he would be released from custody.
This comes as a major blow to South Korean prosecutors who hoped that the sentence would serve as an example to corporate titans that the authorities will not budge when taking a decision against them.
The South Korean court has sentenced Lee Jae-yong to five years in prison after finding him guilty of offering bribes and several other crimes, reported The Guardian.
Jae- yong is South Korea’s third-richest man and heir to the sprawling Samsung empire.
He had been accused of making large donations to foundations run by a close friend and confidante of the deposed South Korean president, Park Geun-hye, in return for political favours.
Geun-hye was also deposed in March this year after the country’s constitutional court found her guilty of corruption and cronyism scandal.
Since he has been arrested in February, the 49-year-old has been claiming that the payments were made to Samsung without his knowledge, and without any expectation of favours from the Park administration.
In spite of the arguments put forward by Jae-yong’ s lawyers, the court has found him guilty of making huge payments to Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for government support for the contentious merger of two Samsung affiliates that would strengthen his control over the group. The accused has, however, said that Samsung was forced to make those payments.
The verdict of the case has ended Lee’s attempts to exercise full control over the Samsung group, of which he has been the de facto head since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.
There is a concern among investors that Jae-yong’s sentence is going to adversely affect Samsung which would face a leadership vacuum and its ability to make strategic decisions.
However, this case verdict has been welcomed by the ordinary people of South Korea who have criticised the leniency with which the courts have treated the country’s family-run conglomerates – or chaebol. This case might be taken as a precedent for years to come.