[THE INVESTOR] An appellate court is set to hand down its verdict on Feb. 5 on Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who was found guilty by a lower court of offering kickbacks to former President Park Geun-hye, and her friend, in a scandal that led to Park‘s ouster last year.
The scion of Korea’s biggest conglomerate was sentenced to five years in prison on Aug. 25 for giving 8.8 billion won (US$8.2 million) to Park and her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in return for government backing for the merger of two key Samsung units, a process that was deemed vital for his leadership succession. Lee and the prosecution both appealed the ruling.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
Four former Samsung executives charged alongside Lee will hear their verdicts in the same courtroom. They received jail or suspended jail terms in August.
Lee, 50, was indicted in February on five charges, including bribery, embezzlement and concealment of illegal proceeds, and has since been under pre-sentencing detention. Special Counsel Park Young-soo accused Lee of offering or promising 43.3 billion won to Park and Choi in the name of sponsorship of equestrian training of Choi‘s 22-year-old daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, a former dressage rider.
The lower court found him guilty on all five counts, but acknowledged only part of the bribes and tossed the pledged amount that was never paid. Some critics have denounced the ruling as being lenient. The special counsel has demanded 12 years in prison for Lee.
Lee has pleaded not guilty, insisting that Samsung provided the money because he was pressured by the former president. 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.
His trial is expected to affect the ruling on the corruption trial of the disgraced former president, who‘s also been indicted and in jail since April last year following the Constitutional Court’s ruling on her removal from office.
By Park Ga-young and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org)