Published: Tue, February 06, 2018
Tech | By Amelia Peters

Samsung scion Lee walks free as South Korea court suspends jail term

Samsung scion Lee walks free as South Korea court suspends jail term

Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of the Samsung conglomerate best known for its electronics, walked free from a South Korean jail on Monday after a court reduced and suspended his five-year sentence on corruption charges handed down less than six months ago.

Past year a lower court jailed Lee for corruption in a political scandal that ultimately brought down former President Park Geun-hye.

On August 25, a court found Lee guilty of embezzlement, bribery and perjury and sentenced him to five years in jail. The Seoul court had also found him guilty of hiding assets overseas, embezzlement and perjury. However, while the government has appointed several anti-chaebol figures to powerful positions in the administration, it can not - at least publicly - influence the judiciary. He denied any solicitation for the government's blessing of the power transfer, saying that he sought to prove his leadership ability to executives and investors first to inherit leadership from his ailing father Lee Kun-hee.

"However, this type of framing is not good for [chaebol] investors, let alone the overall South Korean economy", Jun said.

Cover image: Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong meets dignitaries at an event in 2014.

Samsung was founded by Lee's grandfather some 80 years ago as an exporter of fruit and dried fish but has since grown into a huge, diversified conglomerate that now comprises 60 different business units. Lee had been detained since last February.

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Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman, has been set free with a suspended prison sentence almost a year after he was imprisoned on corruption charges.

"The result doesn't directly affect rank-and-file employees, but it will matter more to the executives", said an assistant manager-level employee at Samsung.

The Federation of Korean Industries, South Korea's biggest business lobby that speaks for large companies, said the court's ruling would have a positive impact on society.

Former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has declared that he won't run for South Korea's presidency.

One of the judges who suspended Lee's sentence said Park had pressured the corporate leader to sponsor equestrian sports, which could have a bearing on Park's verdict, legal experts said.

"Samsung had no agenda for which it needed to make an explicit or implicit request to the former president", the court said. Another circus trial has concluded as most believed it would.

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