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Samsung vice chair Lee Jae-yong sentenced to five years


Lee Jae-yong, the heir to and vice-chairman of South Korea's sprawling Samsung electronics empire, has been jailed for five years after being found guilty of bribery, embezzlement, and other corruption charges. Along with bribery, he was charged with embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealing criminal profits and perjury. According to a report from the BBC, Lee admitted to paying the money, but has denied that he asked for government support.

One of his lawyers said Lee would appeal against the court ruling.

The South Korean court ruled that Lee had paid bribes in anticipation of favours from Park in a watershed for the country's decades-long economic order dominated by powerful, family-run conglomerates.

"We apologise for the social controversy and distress we have caused", Samsung Group executive vice president Lee June told reporters.

South Korea's new president, Moon Jae-in, who replaced the Park after a May 9 election, has pledged to rein in the chaebols, empower minority shareholders and end the practice of pardoning corporate tycoons convicted of white-collar crime.


In passing sentence, the court is expected to express a view on whether there was a conspiracy between Park and Choi to fleece conglomerates in return for favors. Samsung was once a company which was nearly single-handedly responsible for the economic upheaval of South Korea following the Korean War.

The Asian country has been engrossed in a series of scandals which have reached the highest echelons of society, including several business leaders and even led to the removal of former president Park Geun-hye.

Prosecutors wanted a 12-year prison term for Lee, but he was sentenced to five.

The case, which South Korean press labelled the "trial of the century", is thought to have spooked investors who are concerned that a power vacuum may prevent the company and its subsidiaries from making decisions. Among other top executives, Vice Chairman Choi Gee-Sung and President Chang Choong Ki also stepped down from their positions. Shares of Samsung Electronics, where Lee is the vice chairman, finished down 1.05 percent at 2,351,000 won.

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