It has been a rocky time for Samsung. After the embarrassing fire saga that led to a fall in sales, it was the issue with counterfeit batteries. Now, the Chief behind this smartphone brand is engulfed in a legal scandal with the law.
Contrary to what we expected from the billionaire’s prosecutors, Lee Jae-Yong, billionaire son of Samsung’s Chairman was sentenced to five year imprisonment on account on bribery and other corruption charges. His prosecutors had sought a 12 year term.
This conviction comes as a huge blow for the electronics giant, seeing that it was trying to regain customer confidence through the newly launched Note 8 series, after the fire saga that stole the firm’s global reputation. Samsung is said to be the largest family-run conglomerate whose electronics business is estimated to account for 15% of the country’s entire income.
Former South Korean President was engulfed in this trial that later brought about her fall, after she was found guilty of accepting bribe from the business mogul, although she was also accused of making “aggressive demands” of Samsung.
Judge Kim Jindong, the judge who issued the verdict reiterated that justice must prevail and that whatever relationships exist between government officials and business tycoons that help them evade justice must come to a halt. He said:
“The public is disappointed that this kind of large-scale crime caused by cozy relations between politics and business still happens—it’s not in the past but a reality”
The billionaire was found guilty of bribing former president, Park in exchange for government support for a merger that helped him tighten control over Samsung. His other offenses included: perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.
As expected, Lee denied every count made against him. His lawyers rejected the court’s decision as well and are in the process of making an appeal. Who knows, with South Korea’s history of light sentences for business leaders, the case may be overruled.
However, a spokesman for Moon, the new president who vowed to crack down on corrupt business leaders in the country said he hopes Lee’s case would serve as “an opportunity to eradicate the long standing cozy relations between politics and business, which have been an obstacle to further advancing our society”.
Alongside the Samsung chief, were four other Samsung executives who were also found guilty of similar offenses at the trial. However, they had lighter sentences ranging from two and a half to four years.
What now for the electronics warlord?