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Samsung boss walks free from jail

by on05 February 2018

So no change in Korea’s legal system

Hopes that there might be changes to make South Korea’s legal system fairer have been abandoned after the legal system gave the leader of the Samsung business empire a get out of jail free card.

Lee Jae-Yong, a 49-year-old billionaire, was found guilty of bribery and other corruption charges in August and sentenced to five years in prison. But a higher court cut the sentence to two and a half years and suspended it for four years.

Lee’s case brought down the government of former President Park Geun-Hye, and he has been in jail for nearly a year. It is not even that he bothered to cut a deal with prosecutors - he denied the lot.

The appeals court upheld one bribery charge against Lee but overturned another. It also found him not guilty of hiding assets overseas.

Lee's lawyers said that was not enough and they would seek to clear him of the other charges before the country's Supreme Court.

Geoffrey Cain, the author of a forthcoming book on Samsung, said that South Korea was slack light on white-collar crime, particularly by the very wealthy.

"There were hopes that things were improving during the first trial when Lee got five years. But this appeal suggests nothing has changed."

It was widely expected that the government would pardon Lee. That's what happened to his father, Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who was twice convicted of corruption - and twice pardoned.

Two other former Samsung executives who had been convicted of corruption charges in the case also had their prison sentences suspended.

Last modified on 05 February 2018
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