Samsung head sentenced to two and half years in prison for bribery

A South Korean court has sentenced Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong to two years and six months in prison on bribery charges worth about $ 7.8 million. The Reuters news agency reports.

Lee’s case is related to the corruption scandal of the country’s ex-president Park Geun-hye, who was also jailed for bribery and corruption.

Lee «actively provided bribes and implicitly asked the president to use her power to help his smooth succession» at Samsung, the Seoul court said in its verdict.

Lee was sentenced in 2017 for bribing Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil over $ 37 million in exchange for helping Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries merge in 2015. As a result of the deal, Lee gained full control of the conglomerate.

Lee was originally sentenced to five years, but a year later his term was canceled on appeal and he was released.

Park and Choi are serving prison sentences of 25 years and 20 years, respectively since 2018.

The Supreme Court ruled in 2019 that Lee had paid about $ 8 million in bribes to Korean high-ranking officials and sent the case back to the Seoul High Court, which ruled today.

The money Samsung spent to purchase three racehorses worth about $ 2.8 million used by Choi’s equestrian daughter and to fund a winter sports foundation run by Choi’s niece also should be counted as bribes, the Supreme Court noted.

Lee has been the de facto head of Samsung Electronics since 2014 after his father Lee Gong Hee retired for health reasons. Lee Gong Hee died in a hospital in Seoul in October 2020.

News of the sentence sent Samsung electronics shares more than 4% lower