Samsung moves to soothe employee worries about heir's imprisonment

Polaris  Newscom

On Aug. 25, the Seoul Central District Court found Lee guilty of bribery, embezzlement and other charges in a massive corruption scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye, slapping him with a jail term of five years.

During the trial, Lee said he had little involvement in Samsung's day-to-day affairs and was often unaware of details of the business.

The court also said the amount included $6.4 million to sponsor the equestrian career of Choi's daughter.

The disgraced Park and Choi, Park's friend of 40 years, have been on trial since May for conspiring to receive bribes from local firms including Samsung Group to help Choi pursue personal interests.

Numerous key witnesses and her former subordinates have already turned their backs on the ex-president during court proceedings, saying that they had committed alleged wrongdoings under Park's order.

A Seoul Central District Court judge delivering its ruling on bribery and other charges after a six-month trial in a scandal that triggered Park's impeachment and ouster, also found Lee guilty of hiding assets overseas and perjury. They were each sentenced to four years in prison.

The sentencing is the latest episode in a scandal that saw millions of South Koreans protest last autumn, leading Park to be ousted.

Samsung, founded in 1938 by Lee's grandfather, is a household name in South Korea and a symbol of the country's dramatic rise from poverty following the 1950-53 Korean War.

"We hope this will be the first step in cutting the stubborn ties of corruption between politics and business, which has been a roadblock to progress in our society", said Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary at the Blue House, the South Korean president's executive office and residence.

Also on Monday, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics urged employees to do their best to deal with the situation. Since his arrest in February, Mr. Kwon and the other two co-CEOs of Samsung Electronics were managing the company by themselves, sources close to the tech giant said, adding that other divisions of the chaebol are now more autonomous than ever before, which some industry watchers previously claiming how that disconnection between various divisions of Samsung Group could hurt the company in the long term.

"Lee's imprisonment shows they are down to business quite seriously this time".

The ruling in Lee's case can be appealed twice.

Experts, however, said Samsung is expected to face challenges over the long-term as the company may struggle to make decisions for key projects including merger and acquisitions. Lee has two sisters, but neither has been heavily involved in Samsung Electronics, which is widely regarded as the center of the Samsung empire.

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