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World
25 Aug 2017

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung heir, sentenced to five-year prison over corruption

Lee Jae-yong trial and implications for Samsung

A South Korean court has found electronics giant Samsung's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong guilty of bribery and other crimes.

He has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Lee was accused of bribery in a scandal that led to the impeachment of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

The trial comes amid growing resentment among South Korea's public against big companies termed 'chaebols'.

In context

Lee Jae-yong trial and implications for Samsung

Who is Lee Jae-Yong?

Widely referred to as the "Crown Prince of Samsung", Lee Jae-Yong served as the Vice-Chairman of the Samsung group at the time of sentencing. The Forbes magazine placed him 40th in the 2016 list of most powerful people in the world.

Charges

What are the charges against Lee?

Lee has been implicated for embezzlement, bribery and covering up assets overseas.

He has been accused of making a $41 billion dollar donation to two non-profit organizations run by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the former President seeking political favours.

Prosecutors further allege that Lee made the donations to gain government support for restructuring Samsung electronics in a way that strengthened his control.

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Analysis

How is this affecting Samsung?

The Samsung group comprising 60 companies contributes about a fifth of South Korea's GDP.

Considered the de-facto head of Samsung, the case has definitely damaged Lee's reputation as one of South Korea's top businessmen.

Although experts had speculated that Lee's arrest would destabilize Samsung's operations, they have largely continued unaffected since his arrest in February.

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