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Samsung heir sentenced to five years prison on graft conviction
[SEOUL] Jay Y Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was convicted of bribery and sentenced to five years in prison, a blow to the heir apparent of the world's biggest maker of smartphones and memory chips.
Lee is guilty of bribery, perjury and embezzlement, a three-judge panel of Seoul Central District Court ruled on Friday.
The 49-year-old has been in detention since February and proclaimed his innocence throughout the trial.
Prosecutors had sought 12 years in prison.
The ruling casts doubt over Lee's return to the conglomerate his grandfather founded almost 80 years ago and is now in a battle for smartphone supremacy with Apple Inc. Since his arrest in February, Samsung Electronics has bounced back from last year's exploding Note 7 fiasco to release a new flagship and post record earnings with its shares also reaching an all-time high.
Lee also joins the list of Korean business leaders to be convicted of corrupt behaviour, one that already includes his father Lee Kun Hee.
The elder Lee received a suspended three-year prison sentence for evading taxes and embezzling corporate money.
This year's case, dubbed the "Trial of the Century," transfixed the nation as it shone a spotlight on the interaction between South Korea's chaebol and the political elite.
Through hundreds of hours of testimony from dozens of witnesses, prosecutors sought to draw a link between backing from a state-run pension for a 2015 merger of Samsung affiliates and money paid to a confidante of then President Park Geun Hye, including an US$800,000 horse for the friend's daughter.