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Top court orders retrial for Samsung heir’s bribery case

Aug 30,2019
The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a retrial for Samsung Group’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery and embezzlement related to the major corruption scandal that led to the ousting of former President Park Geun-hye.

The court determined that the Seoul High Court’s appeals trial on Lee’s case wrongly dismissed the main bribery charges against him, notably regarding the transfer of three horses that Samsung gave to Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil.

In return, Samsung hoped to use Choi’s influence to receive the Park administration’s assistance for Lee Jae-yong to succeed his father as the leader of Samsung Group, the court said.

The Seoul High Court now must try Lee, Park and Choi again on their bribery charges – which amount to a total of around 8.6 billion won ($7 million) according to the Supreme Court’s determination.

The decision is expected to send shockwaves through the country’s leading conglomerate, with its leader possibly facing a return to prison amid enduring uncertainties for the company as a result of Japan’s export restrictions on key industrial materials crucial to its manufacturing operations.

In February 2017, after a political whirlwind that led to Park’s impeachment by lawmakers, an independent counsel investigating the case indicted Lee and four former Samsung executives on bribery charges. A local court issued a warrant for his detention and placed Lee under state custody before his trial began.

A district court that August convicted Lee and sentenced him to a five-year prison sentence.

But after an appeal trial in February last year, the Seoul High Court halved his sentence and released the executive from detention in a surprise ruling that lifted some of the most serious graft allegations he faced.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]


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