Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and presumed heir to the Samsung empire, has been found guilty of perjury, embezzlement, and bribery in South Korea. The verdict brings a sentence of five years in prison.
Lee was found guilty by a three-judge panel of Seoul Central District Court. The 49-year-old, arrested in February, is the son of the infamous Lee Kun-hee, the incapacitated chairman of the Samsung Group. Due to a tradition of filial piety, the role of chairman may not pass down to Lee Jae-yong until his 75-year-old father actually passes away.
Lee and four other Samsung executives were accused of offering bribes to former South Korean president Park Geun-hye and a confidante of hers, Choi Soon-sil, who is a close personal friend of Park’s. Prosecutors alleged that Lee and the other executives gave 43.3 billion won (about $38 million) in bribes to organizations controlled by Choi in return for favors.
Down but not out
Even though Lee was found guilty today it doesn't necessarily scuttle his chances for succeeding his father. Remember, the elder Lee had been previously convicted of tax evasion and bribery, only to be later pardoned — twice. And the list is long of South Korean chaebol chairmen who’ve received pardons, including the heads of Hyundai, SK, and Hanwha.
Lawyers for Lee Jae-yong say he’ll appeal the decision.