January 18, 2021 11:57
An appellate court on Monday sentences Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong over a backdoor deal that gave him effective control of the publicly traded conglomerate despite holding only a small minority share.
The 2015 merger of subsidiaries Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T gave Lee effective control of the conglomerate through its Byzantine holding structure. But Lee had to jump through some hoops to get there, and not all of them were legal.
In August 2019, the Supreme Court upheld Lee's conviction for bribing ex-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil to the tune of W8.6 billion to facilitate the merger (US$1=W1,100).
But the top court sent the case back to the Seoul High Court, which had arrived at different figures for the bribes in each case.
The money came from conglomerate coffers, and bribery with company money also constitutes embezzlement, which carries a sentence of up to five years in jail if the amount is over W5 billion. A sentence longer than three years cannot be suspended.
At the crux of the sentence will be whether Lee handed the bribe over willingly or whether he was pressured to do so.
The Supreme Court earlier accepted that Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin gave W7 billion in bribes to Park but suspended his sentence because she had pressured him.
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