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Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee faces 9 years in prison after bribery trial wraps

Samsung vice chairman Jay Y. Lee - Appy Pie

Samsung Electronics vice president Jay Y. Lee is now facing a nine-year imprisonment in the corruption case that even led to the removal of former president Park Guen-hye. Prosecutors made an argument that the sentence was justified because of Samsung’s power as the largest family conglomerate, in South Korea.

Lawyers in a final hearing, as per local media reports, said, “Samsung is a group with irresistible power that Korean companies are divided into Samsung and non-Samsung.”

The final decision of the case is scheduled for January 18. Hearings in this case began in the month of October.

This corruption case is completely different from another lawsuit Lee is facing, over allegations of accounting fraud and stock price manipulation.

The corruption case dates back to 2017, when Lee was convicted of bribing Park Guen-hye and his close aide Choi Soon-sil and sentenced to five years in prison. Prosecutors assert that the bribes were intended to gather government support for Lee’s attempt to inherit control of Samsung from his father Lee Kun-hee, then its chairman. Illegal payments were a major part of the scam that led to Park Guen-hye’s impeachment, arrest, and a 25-year prison sentence.

Lee was freed in 2018 after his sentence was reduced and he stayed on appeal, though he returned to work as Samsung’s de facto chief, a position he took over in 2014 after his father Lee Kun-hee suffered a massive heart attack.

However, in August 2019, the Supreme Court overturned the appeals court ruling and ordered the case to be retried in Seoul High Court.

Lee Kun-hee, who was said to be South Korea’s richest citizen died in October. He was worth around USD 20.7 billion and under the country’s tax system, and his heirs could be liable for estate taxes of around USD 10 billion, as per Fortune reports.


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