The heir of Samsung’s group Lee Jae-yong has been sentenced to five years in prison on corruption charges. He has been found guilty of donating 41 billion won to non-profit foundations operated by former South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye in lieu of political favors.
The political favors included winning government support for a restructuring of Samsung which strengthened Mr. Lee’s control over the company.
The scandal has already seen South Korean President Park Geun-hye being impeached from her position. She will now also face trial for corruption.
Mr. Lee was initially looking at 12-year of prison time which has now been reduced to five years. Mr. Lee’s lawyer has already confirmed that they will be appealing the decision and are confident that it will be overturned. In his defense, his lawyer pleaded that the cheques were signed and sanctioned without his knowledge.
“We are confident the ruling will be overturned,” lawyer Song Wu-cheol told Reuters.
Lee has been acting as the standing chairman of Samsung since 2014 after his father Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack. Now that Lee has been sentenced to prison time, it is unclear who will be heading Samsung in the meanwhile.
In addition to Lee, two other Samsung executives — Choi Gee-sung and Chang Chong-ki — were also sentenced to four years in prison, while Park Sang-jin and Hwang Sung-soo — former President and executive vice president of Samsung Electronics — were suspended.