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South Korea: Samsung leader found guilty of bribery and embezzlement

 |  August 27, 2017

Samsung will have to operate without its acting leader for a few years, now that a South Korean court has found Lee Jae-yong guilty of bribery and embezzlement. The executive has been sentenced to five years in prison, much shorter than the 12 years he was facing.

According to The New York Times, though, that’s long enough to be considered a heavy penalty for a country that’s used to doling out light sentences to major business figures.

Also known as Jay Y. Lee, the executive is technically the “chaebol’s” Vice Chairman, but he’s been running the company for a few years now after his father suffered a heart attack.

Lee was arrested earlier this year after Samsung’s involvement in President Park Geun-hye’s scandals came to light. Apparently, he bribed four foundations built to support the former president’s political initiatives with a total of US$38 million, effectively ensuring the regulatory approval needed to merge two Samsung-controlled companies.

Many shareholders were opposed to the US$8 billion merger, but it passed without issues due to the government’s backing. It’s worth noting that the Samsung conglomerate is involved not only in electronics, but also in shipping, medicine and many other industries.

Now South Korea and Samsung — the country’s biggest business empire and a global force in the technology industry — are at a turning point reported the New York Times. August 25’s verdict could embolden efforts to weaken the hold that major family-run business groups have maintained over one of the world’s most dynamic economies.

“Until now, Samsung had always been considered above the law in South Korea,” said You Jong-il, an economist at the KDI School of Public Policy and Management. “This marks a big stride in establishing judicial justice in the country because it has kept failing before Samsung.”

Full Content: New York Times

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