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Samsung boss appeals against his sentence

by on28 August 2017

Needs to get it reduced so that it can be "suspended" 

Samsung boss Jay Y. Lee has appealed against the five-year jail term he was given for bribery and other charges.

The Seoul Central District Court’s website did not give any details about the appeal, which will be assigned to a higher court. Lee’s lawyer has steered media inquiries to Samsung, whose spokeswoman did not have any immediate comment.

Lee was convicted of bribing the then president Park Geun-hye to help him secure control of the conglomerate that owns Samsung.  Under Korean law, Lee can be kept in detention a maximum four months while a court considers his appeal. This means the appeals court that is assigned the case is likely to try to wrap up its ruling around January 2018, with criminal lawyers not directly involved in the case.

 Samsung Chief Executive Kwon Oh-hyun asked employees to rally around the company.

“I believe all of you must be devastated by the lower court ruling... We management are also distressed,” he wrote in an internal message. “Please do the best you can where you are... We management will also lead the way in overcoming the crisis with uncommon resolve."

We're not really sure why Samsung employees should care.  It is not as if anything will change for them. Shareholders do not seem to care much. Shares fell by two percent and most of that was because foreign investors think that such an arrest should have an effect.  The leadership vacuum may not have a short term effect, but in the long term, it is a serious problem.

Samsung said in a statement that Lee will keep his status as a member of the firm’s Board of Directors “unless there is a final determination of guilt”.

Samsung’s defence is likely to argue against the lower court’s interpretation that giving financial support to Park’s confidant Choi Soon-sil is “effectively the same as Park herself receiving it”, the lawyers said.

“Samsung is likely to argue that Lee is not guilty as Samsung’s support of Choi-backed ventures is not the same as giving bribes to the president”,  said one of the lawyers, Byun Hwan-bong.

"At the same time, as a precautionary strategy, they're likely to try to bring down the sentencing due to extenuating circumstances - Lee could not reasonably refuse the demands of the country's highest decision-maker", Byun added.

If the defence successfully argues such points, there is a chance that it can not only get Lee's sentence brought down to three years or less but also get it suspended, allowing his release, these lawyers said.

Until about four years ago, many chaebol leaders including Lee's father, Samsung patriarch Lee Kun-hee, got the same cookie-cutter approach to their crimes - a three year sentence that was suspended. Under South Korean law, jail terms of three years or less can be suspended which is a common occurrence for white collar crime.  This is probably why senior executives don't really fear being arrested.

Last modified on 28 August 2017
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