Prosecutors seek 12-year jail term for Samsung heir

Alyssa Bailey
Августа 8, 2017

South Korean prosecutors have demanded a 12-year jail term for Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong over his role in the corruption scandal that brought down former president Park Geun-hye.

The princeling of South Korea's richest family was charged with paying, or promising to pay, about 43.3 billion won (38.4 million US dollars) in bribes to ousted President Park Geun-hye and her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, who was at the center of the influence-peddling scandal.

"I have never asked anyone, including the president, for anything for the company or my personal gain", said Lee in court.

Samsung's Jay Y. Lee was arrested in the graft scandal.

A panel of three judges at the Seoul Central District Court said they will hand down their verdict on August 25.

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Samsung Electronics offered no comment regarding the prosecutors' demand.

The special prosecution team is expected to seek harsh punishment on Lee, claiming that he played a key part in the massive corruption scandal which led to the ouster of the former president. In return, Lee allegedly sought government approval for the contentious $8bn merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015 - a move that would cement his control of the business empire.

Park also accused Samsung officials of lying in their testimonies to protect Lee.

Lee, the 49-year-old son of Samsung's ailing chairman, has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

Samsung's lawyers do not contest having donated a large sum of money to entities controlled by Choi. Powerful South Korean families have a history of avoiding jail time even after major scandals, and Lee's ultimate fate is hard to call. They requested seven- to 10-year terms for three other former Samsung executives. But it eventually went through after the national pension fund - a major Samsung shareholder - approved it.

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