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Samsung Electronics

South Korean prosecutors demand 12-year prison term for Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong

Lee’s bribery case is part of a huge political scandal that led to the overthrow of Park in late March after millions took to streets for anti-government rallies for months

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 5:23pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 December, 2017, 8:58pm

South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday demanded a 12-year prison term for Samsung’s jailed billionaire heir Lee Jae-yong for his conviction on bribery and other charges, according to a Seoul court hearing his appeal case.

In August, a lower court sentenced Lee to five years in prison for offering bribes to former South Korean president Park Geun-hye and her confidante while Park was in office. Both Lee and prosecutors, who earlier had requested a 12-year prison term, appealed that ruling.

The Seoul High Court said it expects to issue a verdict on Lee in the coming weeks. If that verdict is appealed again either by Lee or prosecutors, his case will be handed over to the Supreme Court, which will make a final ruling on him.

Lee’s bribery case is part of a huge political scandal that led to the overthrow of Park in late March after millions took to streets for anti-government rallies for months. Park and her friend, Choi Soon-sil, were arrested and charged with taking bribes from Samsung in return for helping Lee cement his control of the company for a smooth power transfer.

Prosecutors have also charged both Park and Choi with pressuring Samsung and other big businesses to donate a total of 77.4 billion won (US$68 million) for the launch of two nonprofit foundations controlled by Choi.

How rising tide of populism toppled South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye

Samsung, founded by Lee’s grandfather, is one of the key family-run South Korean conglomerates, known as chaebols, that have dominated the country’s economy. Some credit them with leading South Korea’s export-driven economy and rebuilding its economy from the ashes of the 1950-53 Korean war, but others say their successes were only possible because of corrupt, collusive ties with government officials.

Lee, whose official tile is vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, took a higher-profile role after his father and Samsung chair Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in 2014. Lee has claimed innocence during his trials.

Samsung is the world’s largest maker of smartphones, television sets and microchips.