Samsum’s Lee Jae-yong sentenced to 5 years in prison

The Seoul Central District Court has recently sentenced Lee Jae-yong, the heir-apparent and vice-chairman of South Korea’s largest company, Samsung, to 5 years in jail for a series of crimes, including bribery, corruption and embezzlement.

Last Friday, Mr.Lee was convicted of a string of serious crimes such as hiding assets overseas, bribery, corruption, providing false attestation and dissembling criminal proceeds in the court considered “trial of the century”, with four other Samsung executives involved. The court said that Lee colluded closely with Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was still president at the time, to engage the offenses, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

Lee Jae-yong
Lee Jae-yong.

Right after the verdict, Samsung C&T shares strongly plunged by 2.0 percent on Friday’s afternoon session. Samsung Electronics share prices were also down by 1.05 percent.

“This is a case where political power and business power colluded immorally. It won’t be easy for the public to regain trust in our institutions as these corrupt ties between the president and big conglomerates are still present, not something that happened in the past,” said judge Kim Jin-dong. “Especially, as the defendants are the representatives of Samsung Group, the negative impact that this case has on our society and economy is very big.”

Lawyers of Samsung heir pledged that they would appeal versus the verdict. “As a lawyer, I cannot possibly agree with the juridical decisions and acknowledged facts involved in the verdict,” Lee’s Attorney Song Woo-cheo said.

Samsung is one of the largest global smartphone conglomerates, and is always appreciated by investors. Last month, it outstripped Apple to become the most profitable company in the world with quarterly profits of 9.9 billion dollars. However, this scandal may cause tremendous damage to Samsung’s reputation and operation in the near future, and raised increasing doubts about the long-term prospect of this technology company.
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