Samsung's Lee sentenced to 30 months in prison in corruption retrial

  • Samsung's Lee sentenced to 30 months in prison in corruption retrial

Samsung's Lee sentenced to 30 months in prison in corruption retrial

The Seoul High Court found Lee guilty of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of criminal proceeds worth about 8.6 billion won (S$10.35 million), and said the independent compliance committee Samsung set up early a year ago has yet to become fully effective.

In February 2018, that sentence was halved, and the Seoul High Court chose to suspend the jail term, meaning he was free to go. The elder Lee died previous year.

With this, Lee will be sidelined from major decision-making at Samsung Electronics as it strives to overtake competitors, as well as from overseeing the process of inheritance from his father - who died last October - which is crucial to keeping control of Samsung.

Monday's sentencing can be appealed to the Supreme Court, but because the Supreme Court has already ruled on it once, chances are lower that is legal interpretation will change, legal experts said.

Lee was first jailed for five years in 2017, after Park's ouster. Since he spent almost a year in detention, he has one year and six months left to complete his term.

The appeals court said Samsung's compliance committee is not seen as effective enough to be considered one of the sentencing factors favorable to Lee. Samsung Electronics declined to comment on the outcome.

"I find the court's decision regrettable".

The ruling creates a vacuum atop the world's largest producer of memory chips, smartphones and consumer appliances at a time the Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating rising uncertainty around the U.S. -Chinese relationship and intensifying competition.

Needless to say, Mr Lee is unlikely to be held until it's time for the Galaxy S40 but he could very well serve quite a long sentence to set an example nonetheless, so hopefully Samsung has contigency plans for whatever is in its pipeline for that period. The executive plays an active role at the company, frequently joining government-related and public events after he was released from the prison.

"A rocky road is ahead for Samsung with Lee in jail", said Chung Sun-sup, chief executive officer of Seoul-based corporate-analysis firm Chaebul.com.

During the last hearing on December 30, Lee read out a lengthy personal apology over the case - reiterating pledges he first made in May - stressing his effort to make Samsung company great while pledging not to repeat past wrongdoings, and pledging not to pass down power to his children. The payment was made in exchange for Park's political support for a controversial Samsung merger between Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T, with an aim of helping him gain more power.

Lee assumed leadership of the company when his father Lee Kun-hee was hospitalised following a heart attack in 2014. The key issue in the high court's retrial was whether it would hand down a prison term heavy enough for Lee to return to jail.