Date
20 August 2017
Lee Jae-yong (above) faces 12 years in prison for corruption which has ensnared some of South Korea's high-profile figures, including former president Park Geun-hye. Photo: Reuters
Lee Jae-yong (above) faces 12 years in prison for corruption which has ensnared some of South Korea's high-profile figures, including former president Park Geun-hye. Photo: Reuters

Prosecutors seek 12-year jail sentence for Samsung heir

South Korean prosecutors sought a 12-year sentence Monday for Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of the Samsung conglomerate, after a months-long trial over a national corruption scandal that has ensnared many of the country’s high-profile figures, including former president Park Geun-hye, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The prosecutors’ sentence recommendation marks the end of Lee’s court hearing. The court will give its final ruling on Aug. 25. Lee can be detained without a ruling by law until Aug. 27.

Lee, the grandson of Samsung’s founder and the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., has been on trial since April. Prosecutors accuse Lee of agreeing to pay some US$37 million to entities linked to a close friend of Park in exchange for the government’s support to consolidate his grip over the Samsung empire.

This included support for a merger between two Samsung affiliates that increased his personal stake in Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker and the crown jewel of South Korea’s largest conglomerate.

Lee, who has been detained since February as he undergoes trial, faces five charges centering around bribery. Lee has denied all charges against him.

The prosecutors’ recommended sentence goes above the minimum five-year sentence previously estimated by legal experts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, and would make Lee the first Samsung leader to be imprisoned since the company was founded in 1938. By South Korean law, sentences of more than three years cannot be suspended. Lee would have to serve a third of his sentence term before he could win parole.

Park was removed from office in March by the country’s Constitutional Court following her impeachment over accusations that she colluded with her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, to extort money from Samsung and other South Korean conglomerates.

Also on Monday, prosecutors recommended 10-year prison sentences for three other former Samsung officials involved in the same case as Lee, including the one-time head of the Samsung conglomerate’s corporate strategy office, the group’s former control tower that was abolished in February. Prosecutors sought a seven-year sentence for one other former Samsung official.

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