South Korea court suspends jail term for Samsung's heir

A South Korean appeals court has on Monday, suspended the jail sentence on Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee, setting him free. Following a corruption scandal that led to the removal of the former president Park Geun-hye, a lower court jailed Lee for two and a half years.

Lee, 49, heir to one of the world’s biggest smartphone makers, had
been detained since last February, after a lower court in August convicted Lee of bribing  South Korea's former president, Park Guen-hye, by supporting the career of the daughter of Park's friend, with the president helping him strengthen his control of Samsung Electronics. He was also convicted of embezzlement and other charges.

The appeals court said Lee did not ask for such help and 3.6 billion won ($3.31 million), not 7.2 billion, was paid as a bribe. Presiding senior judge Cheong Hyung-sik called Lee’s involvement in Samsung’s support for Park’s friend as passive compliance to political power.

“Park threatened Samsung Electronics executives,” the judge said. “The defendant provided a bribe, knowing it was bribery to support (the friend’s daughter), but was unable to refuse.”

The decision is likely to be appealed at the country's Supreme Court but Prosecutors, who were seeking a 12 year jail term, did not give any comment if they will appeal the decision.

Lee said his time in jail was spent on self reflection and had been useful. “Again, I feel sorry to everyone for not showing my best side. And it has been a really precious time for a year reflecting on myself,” Lee told reporters. He also added that he needed to visit his ailing father who suffered a heart attack in 2014.


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