Samsung‘s acting chief Lee Jae-yong, the man directing Samsung in the absence of his ill father Lee Kun-hee, has been found guilty of bribery, perjury, embezzlement, and other charges, in the conclusion of a six-month trial.
Lee, who denied the charges, is now facing five years in prison, though prosecutors were seeking a 12-year sentence.
Lee Jay-yong’s arrest arrived in early February amid a number of corruption stories arriving from South Korea, including charges against former president Park Geun-Hye, who is also on trial. Lee was accused of bribing president Park in return for her support a controversial merger between Samsung affiliates — something which is said to have helped Lee solidify his position at the top of the company.
Samsung’s share prices are said to have dropped following the verdict, though it is not expected to cause significant disruption to Samsung’s daily business. Since Lee’s arrest, Samsung has continued to see record profits, and the recently revealed Galaxy Note 8 is likely to be another smash hit for the company.
A question now hangs regarding how much jail time Lee will actually serve. His incapacitated father, Lee Kun-hee was indicted and found guilty of tax evasion and embezzlement in 2008 and given a three-year suspended sentence. He received a presidential pardon soon after and returned to work as the Samsung Electronics chairman a year later. It was the second time he’d had a sentence overturned.
Suspended sentences and presidential pardons are reportedly common in South Korea with regards to its Chaebols — the name given to the major family run corporations which account for a large portion of the nation’s economy. But South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, has already asserted that there will be no more presidential pardons, according to the BBC.
Lee was also found guilty of concealing criminal profits and hiding assets overseas; his lawyers said Friday that they reject the verdict and will appeal immediately.