Samsung heir appeals his 5-year jail sentence

Lee Jae-yong's conviction on bribery charges bodes ill for Park Geun-hye : National : News : The Hankyoreh

The conviction of Samsung Group's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong bodes ill for former President Park Geun-hye, who is on trial for receiving bribes from Lee, observers said Monday.

Lee Jae-yong was also found guilty by a panel of three judges of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealing profits from criminal acts and perjury.

Lee's lawyer has steered media inquiries to Samsung, whose spokeswoman did not have any immediate comment about the appeal.

The court said on Friday that Lee hoped bribes for Park at the time she was president and her close friend Choi Soon-sil would secure government support for a merger that strengthened Lee's control at a crucial time.

A confidential 2007 USA diplomatic cable, published by Wikileaks, referenced rumors that Choi had "complete control over Park's body and soul during her formative years and that his children accumulated enormous wealth as a result".

Lee was the only one of the leaders of 16 conglomerates to be indicted on charges related to the coercion of funds for the Mir and K-Sports foundations, which was the primary cause behind Park's expulsion by the Constitutional Court in March.

His attorneys refused to accept the verdict, saying they were confident Lee would be cleared of all charges in an appeals court according to local news agency Yonhap. Lee was handed down a five year jail sentence while prosecutors sought 12 years in prison.

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The ruling did not take into account former South Korean president Park's "repeated and aggressive" requests of Samsung, its editorial said.

But Lee, vice-chairman at Samsung Electronics and the Samsung founder's grandson, had said he was unaware of the donations, which were overseen by other executives. The trials are now being carried out separately, but given that these charges are two sides of the same coin, the judges assigned to the Park case can't help but take this judgement into consideration.

"As a legal professional, I can not possibly accept any part of the lower court's guilty verdicts", said Song Wu-cheol, lead defense attorney, who added, "I am confident that the appeals court will definitely find the defendants not guilty on all counts".

The ruling in Lee's case can be appealed twice. Last year, the American hedge fund demanded Samsung Electronics' conversion into a holding company and listing on NASDAQ along with a special dividend worth 30 trillion won.

Powerful family controlled business groups helped catapult the country from poverty to becoming a global economic power.

"I think that Lee's sentence will be reduced at the High Court".

They said Lee was aware that Park wanted Samsung to sponsor the equestrian training. Lee has two sisters, but neither has been heavily involved in Samsung Electronics, which is widely regarded as the center of the Samsung empire. Some were pardoned and others got sentences reduced on appeal.