The Korea Herald


Samsung heir Lee, prosecutors won't appeal ruling in bribery case

By Yonhap

Published : Jan. 25, 2021 - 11:12

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Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., heads to a sentencing hearing at the Seoul High Court on Jan. 18, 2021. (Yonhap) Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., heads to a sentencing hearing at the Seoul High Court on Jan. 18, 2021. (Yonhap)

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong and the prosecution said Monday that they will not appeal last week's appeals court ruling that sentenced him to 2 1/2 years in prison in a retrial of a high-profile bribery case.

Last Monday, the Seoul High Court handed down the verdict to the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. for bribing former President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, to win government support for a smooth father-to-son transfer of managerial power at Samsung. Lee was sent back to prison after the sentencing.

His lawyer Lee In-jae said his client respected the court ruling and decided not to take further legal action.

Prosecutors said on Monday afternoon that they won't appeal either, saying their original goal of finding the truth has been achieved, closing the case nearly four years after they brought a bribery charge against Lee.

The 52-year-old Lee was charged in February 2017 with giving 29.8 billion won ($27.4 million) worth of bribes and promising to give more.

In 2017, he was sentenced to five years in prison for providing a total of 8.9 billion won in support for Choi's daughter's equestrian training and a donation to a sports foundation run by Choi's family. But he was freed the following year after an appeals court sentenced him to a suspended prison term of 2 1/2 years, based on the revised amount of bribes at 3.6 billion won.

In August 2019, the top court ruled Lee offered 8.6 billion won in total in bribes and remanded the case to the appeals court for retrial.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court upheld a 20-year prison term for Park, the first South Korean leader to be removed from office for corruption, on bribery and power abuse charges. Choi was sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges including abuse of power, coercion and bribery in June.

Given the prison time he already has served, he will be freed in July 2022, unless he is granted a pardon or commutation.

While one legal case ended, Lee is still on trial for a controversial merger of two Samsung affiliates and alleged accounting fraud.

In September, he was charged with unfair trading, stock manipulation and breach of trust in relation to the 2015 merger between Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung C&T, seen as a key step toward his succession, and alleged accounting fraud at the pharmaceutical unit of Samsung Biologics.

The trial began in October, and the second hearing is likely to take place next month. (Yonhap)