Seoul, Feb 5 (IANS) A South Korean court on Monday released Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong after it handed him a suspended sentence dismissing most of the key charges in a scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.
The Seoul High Court sentenced Lee to two and a half years in prison with a stay of execution for four years. He was immediately freed from a nearly year-long incarceration, reports Yonhap News Agency.
The scion of South Korea’s biggest conglomerate was sentenced to five years in prison on August 25, 2017, for giving 8.8 billion won ($8.1 million) to Park and her confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in return for government backing for the merger of two key Samsung units, a process that was deemed vital for his leadership succession.
Special Counsel Park Young-soo had demanded 12 years in prison for Lee. Lee and the prosecution both appealed the ruling.
Reversing the lower court’s ruling, the appeals court did not acknowledge that leadership succession had been in place at Samsung as claimed by the prosecution.
It found Samsung had thus no agenda for which it needed to make an “explicit or implicit request” to the former President, seeking government consent from the outset.
Lee, 50, was arrested on February 17, 2017 and was indicted on five charges, including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.
The special counsel accused Lee of offering or promising 43.3 billion won to Park and Choi in the name of sponsoring the equestrian training of Choi’s 22-year-old daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, a former dressage rider.
The lower court found him guilty on all five counts but acknowledged only part of the bribes and tossed the pledged amount that was never paid.
Lee pleaded not guilty.