Samsung heir's release by appeals court triggers controversy in S. Korea

Samsung chief's prison sentence has been suspended

Today Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was freed as a Seoul appellate court cleared him of some charges and handed down a suspended sentence after serving only five months in jail.

However, High Court of Seoul has made a decision to lower this penalty to two and a half years and has authorized Lee to keep it on hold, so it allows him to immediately leave penitentiary where he was, after anor instance withdrew many of CA Rgos for those who had been condemned.

Prosecutors had sought 12 years in prison for Lee. But a higher court cut the sentence to two and a half years and suspended it for four years. The Seoul Central District Court had sentenced Lee to five years in prison for all five counts charged against him: bribery, embezzlement, illegal transfer of assets overseas, concealment of criminal proceeds and perjury.

Shares in the flagship Samsung Electronics, where Lee is Vice-Chairman reversed earlier losses and closed up 0.5 per cent, compared to a 1.3 per cent fall in the wider market.

In 1998 he married the granddaughter of the founder of South Korean food giant Daesang.

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But how much he has contributed to Samsung's business decisions remains unclear.

Lee was arrested past year on charges that he paid bribes to a confidante of South Korea's former president in exchange for political favours. He will be on a four-year probation.

"We have a new president in office, but the "Republic of Samsung" lives on", said Kwon Young-june, a professor who researches corporate governance at Seoul's Kyung Hee University.

Right after getting the suspended jail sentence, Lee smilingly got on a bus bound for the detention center, where he stayed for nearly a year. Samsung vice chairman Jay Y. Lee was originally supposed to spend five years in prison after being found guilty of bribing public officials, but terms of that have changed. In addition to their business role, they support sports teams and art and culture centers, provide generous advertising budgets to media and even contribute to national events such as Olympiads. With youth unemployment a serious social and political issue in Korea, this news may have been impactful.

"Again, I am very sorry for being unable to put my best face forward with all of you", Lee told waiting reporters. The court said Lee had been "forced" to offer Park bribes and there was "no evidence" that Lee explicitly demanded policy favours in return. Another circus trial has concluded as most believed it would.

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