A South Korean court Friday convicted Lee Jae-yong, the heir to the Samsung business empire, of bribery and embezzlement and sentenced him to five years in prison, a dramatic break with the country's history of dealing light penalties to major business figures.
A panel of three judges also found Lee guilty of embezzling Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas, concealing profit from criminal acts and perjury.
Lee has denied any wrongdoing.
According to Yonhap news agency, Lee's lawyer Kim Jong-hoon delivered the appeal to the Seoul Central District Court, challenging the court's ruling that Lee had been involved in Samsung's bribes for equestrian lessons for the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Samsung secretively provided a huge amount of money to Choi's Germany-based company that paid for the training and the exorbitantly priced foreign horses worth 3.6 billion won ($3.2 million) were part of the bribes, the verdict said.
Lee's attorneys immediately said they would appeal, and experts said it would likely go all the way to the country's supreme court. Considering the regulations of the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Crimes Law, which stipulate that even a bribe of over 100 million won (US $90,000) means facing over 10 years in prison, if Park is found guilty on this count, it will be hard for her to avoid a severe sentencing. In return for the financial contribution, the court found that Ms. Choi colluded with Ms. Park to provide government backing for business deals relating to Mr.
Their quote references allegations that South Korean President Parks offered "repeated and aggressive" requests from Samsung.
Lee joined the Samsung Electronics board in October 2016 around the time of the launch of the company's Galaxy Note 7 smartphone model that continually caught fire and resulted in a subsequent termination of the model.
The dual moves on Monday appeared meant to send a message of steadiness and continuity as Samsung, one of the world's biggest technology companies, navigates a precarious period. "We management are also distressed", he wrote in an internal message, seen by Reuters, to Samsung Electronics staff on Monday. She and Choi are both now on trial. Instead, Samsung has insisted that a merger of two Samsung companies at the centre of the scandal was about creating business benefits.
If the defence successfully argues such points, there is a chance that it cannot only get Lee's sentence brought down to three years or less but also get it suspended, allowing his release, these lawyers said.
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