Samsung chief gets early release from prison

Samsung chief gets early release from prison

The decision follows a familiar pattern however: over the years, Lee's father, as well as other South Korean business executives, had been tried in court for corruption only to receive suspended sentences.

His sentencing confirmed what had always been suspected: links between the nation's most successful and renowned company and the country's government.

Lee was also "cleared of hiding assets overseas, a charge that could carry the heaviest punishment - a minimum five-year sentence - among the five charges", Yonhap says.

The Seoul High Court softened the original ruling against Lee, rejecting most of the bribery charges leveled against Lee by prosecutors who sought a 12-year prison term. The lower court had said Lee embezzled that amount from Samsung to bribe Choi.

"Lee's biggest goal for now is to show what is the next step that Samsung Group will take, while continuing its shareholder-friendly actions", he added.

Despite Lee's pleading not guilty, few had expected that he would walk out of prison.

The Federation of Korean Industries, South Korea's biggest business lobby that speaks for large companies, said the court's ruling would have a positive impact on society.

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The appeal trial began in October past year following appeals from both prosecutors and Lee's defence. This was a move that was said would help his leadership succession. The piece dismissed arguments from Samsung and conservative media that Lee's imprisonment would damage South Korea's entire economy as "inflated and farfetched", citing Samsung Electronics' recent record quarterly earnings and stock split.

On January 14, 2008, Korean police raided Lee's home and office in an ongoing probe into accusations that Samsung was responsible for a slush fund used to bribe influential prosecutors, judges, and political figures in South Korea.

Right after getting the suspended jail sentence, Lee smilingly got on a bus bound for the detention center, where he stayed for nearly a year.

But the appeals court said Lee did not solicit any such help. The Suwon, South Korea-based company took the opportunity to unveil a 50-to-1 stock split, which sent its shares surging.

Cover image: Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong meets dignitaries at an event in 2014.

The court ruled that Lee had paid bribes in anticipation of favours from Park in a watershed for the country's decades-long economic order dominated by powerful, family-run conglomerates.

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