Samsung heir freed after appeal wins suspended jail term

Samsung heir freed after appeal wins suspended jail term

Samsung heir freed after appeal wins suspended jail term

Controversy was triggered in South Korea over Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong's release from prison by an appeals court, which dropped most of bribery charges found guilty by a lower court. The decision follows a familiar pattern however: over the years, Lee's father, as well as other South Korean business executives, had been tried in court for corruption only to receive suspended sentences.

The decision is likely to be appealed at the country's Supreme Court but Prosecutors, who were seeking a 12 year jail term, did not give any comment if they will appeal the decision.

Monday's ruling marked a mitigated sentence compared to a lower court ruling on August 25th of a year ago.

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. "It is questionable how the law can be so generous toward chaebol owners while so strict toward workers and ordinary people". Lee has not responded to the verdict.[26] Months later, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak pardoned Lee so he could remain on the International Olympic Committee. The appeals court rejected the lower court's view that corporate succession was one of the issues at stake.

It is not clear whether Lee will resume his position as vice-chairman.

"We respect the court's courage and wisdom to have delivered a not-guilty verdict for our client over the key charges", Lee's lawyers said.

"Despite the fact that Lee was in jail for a year, it was common knowledge that he continued to run Samsung behind bars", said Al Jazeera's Ghoneim.

While Lee was in detention, Samsung Electronics appointed new leaders and continued to outperform.

The appeal trial began in October a year ago following appeals from both prosecutors and Lee's defence.

Special prosecutors said that the Samsung heir arranged the deal during three face-to-face meetings with Park between 2014 and 2016. He will be on probation for four years, the court said.

More broadly, in Korea, Lee's trial marked somewhat of a litmus test for how the country's family-founded conglomerates would fare under new president Moon Jae-in. "If we were to succeed in reforming the running of the chaebols and also increasing transparency, I believe this will not only help the economic power of Korea but also help to make the chaebols themselves more competitive".

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