Samsung inheritor braces for high court docket ruling in ex-president bribery case

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Group will uncover the destiny of its de facto chief on Thursday as South Korea’s Supreme Courtroom guidelines whether or not to uphold the bribery conviction of Jay Y. Lee, in a scandal that unseated the president and educated public ire on company untouchables.

FILE PHOTO: Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee speaks on the firm's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, June 23, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Picture

The ruling may even decide how a lot Lee, 51, can give attention to steering the group’s flagship Samsung Electronics Co Ltd by way of falling profitability and Japanese export curbs on supplies essential for the world’s main chipmaker.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was sentenced in 2017 to 5 years imprisonment for bribing a buddy of former President Park Geun-hye as he sought to succeed his father and safe management of Samsung Group.

He was freed after a 12 months in detention when the appellate Seoul Excessive Courtroom halved his sentence and suspended it for 4 years. Each Lee, who denies wrongdoing, and prosecutors appealed once more.

The Supreme Courtroom can be set to rule on appeals court docket selections within the instances towards Park, who was impeached following the scandal and is serving a 25-year jail sentence, and her buddy Choi Quickly-sil, jailed for 20 years, each for bribery and different fees.

Lee was the most recent in a sequence of conglomerate bosses to be convicted of corruption however obtain a lenient sentence, drawing public requires reform of huge companies usually criticized for overly shut relationships with political leaders.

The Supreme Courtroom can uphold Lee’s conviction and suspended sentence, or ask the Seoul Excessive Courtroom to rethink its judgment. That might result in the conviction being overturned, or to a harder sentence, authorized consultants stated.

“Politically, because the present authorities remains to be making an attempt to do away with corruption from the earlier administration, the Supreme Courtroom is extra prone to ship the case again to the appeals court docket, which may result in a heavier sentence,” stated legal professional Choi Jin-nyoung, who isn’t concerned within the case.

The federal government is led by President Moon Jae-in, a liberal former human rights lawyer elected on an anti-corruption platform after Park’s impeachment and weeks of protests.


The case facilities on whether or not three horses donated by Samsung Group for the coaching of Choi’s daughter, a aggressive equestrian, ought to be thought-about bribes geared toward profitable Park’s favor.

Courtroom paperwork confirmed Park requested Lee to assist the daughter, and was convicted on grounds that the horses have been bribes value 3.7 billion gained ($3.05 million). Nevertheless, the horses weren’t acknowledged as such in Lee’s trial, serving to scale back his sentence.

“The three horses, and whether or not there have been unjust favors, shall be central to the Courtroom’s determination,” stated lawyer Jun Ji-hyun. “South Koreans are taking note of the case, given its political and enterprise implications.”

On Thursday morning, the Supreme Courtroom was surrounded by a police cordon in anticipation of protests, with officers guarding the court docket gates, the subway entrance closed, and greater than 10 buses blocking passages.

Just a few hundred pro-Park protesters have been current, whereas an anti-Lee rally close to the court docket was minimize brief by rain.

The ruling is scheduled for two p.m. (0500 GMT) and shall be broadcast stay on tv. Lee isn’t required to attend.


The ruling comes at a crucial second for each Samsung and its house nation, as Japan’s determination final month to limit exports of key chipmaking chemical compounds following a diplomatic dispute threatens to disrupt manufacturing of reminiscence chips, South Korea’s largest export merchandise.

Lee has since been on a high-profile mission to deal with what he advised his lieutenants was a “disaster”.

Samsung, the world’s largest maker of reminiscence chips and smartphones, can be going through falling profitability as costs of chips and show panels slide. It reported a 56% drop in June-quarter revenue and stated Japan’s curbs blurred its outlook.

Reporting by Ju-min Park, Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee; Modifying by Jack Kim and Christopher Cushing

Author: Maxwell C.

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