by Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge
The billionaire Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman and heir, Lee Jae-yong, was sentenced to five years in prison for paying bribes worth 8.9 billion won ($7.9 million) to a friend of then-president Park Geun-hye to win her support for the merger of two Samsung affiliates. The sentence marks a “watershed moment” for the country’s decades-long economic order dominated by powerful, family-run conglomerates.
The six-month trial over a scandal that brought down the then president, Park Geun-hye, concluded with a ruling that Lee had approved Samsung Electronics’ plan to send 7.3 billion won to Choi Soon-sil, Park’s longtime friend, through a German shell company, and to offer horses to her daughter, in anticipation of favors from Park. The court also found that Lee made an improper payment of 1.6 billion won to Choi through a sports center controlled by her. The merger of the two Samsung companies, which narrowly won shareholder approval with the backing of the National Pension Service, strengthened Lee’s control over the group. The court also found Lee guilty of hiding assets abroad, embezzlement and perjury.
“The essence of this case is an immoral cohabitation of politics and corporation,” said judge Kim Jin-dong. “[With the ruling] we expect political power to be used for the interest of the whole citizenry.”
“This case is a matter of Lee Jae-yong and Samsung Group executives, who had been steadily preparing for Lee’s succession … bribing the president,” Kim Jin-dong added, using Lee’s Korean name.
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