Samsung’s 52-year-old heir, Lee Jae Yong, has been sentenced to 2.5 years in prison related to a bribery case. Lee was found guilty of bribery, embezzlement, and concealment of criminal proceeds worth $7.8 million.
Lee has already served some time in prison while waiting for the trial. This leaves him with 18 months still to serve. He was first arrested back in early 2017 over a political scandal linked to the then-president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye. The case has been ongoing since then, leading to Monday’s decision by the Seoul High Court.
“It’s really a huge blow and a big crisis for Samsung,” Kim Dae-jong, a professor at Sejong University, told the news agency AFP.
In its verdict, the court noted that Lee had “actively provided bribes and implicitly asked the president to use her power to help his smooth succession” as the big boss at Samsung. It continued: “It is very unfortunate that Samsung, the country’s top company and proud global innovator, is repeatedly involved in crimes whenever there is a change in political power.”
Lee’s lawyer said that the court’s decision is “regrettable.”
The sentencing could be appealed to the Supreme Court within one week of being issued, the judge noted. However, according to legal experts, it is unlikely that this would result in a change in outcome.