The head of Samsung is facing up to 12 years in prison after South Korean prosecutors delivered closing arguments in a trial Monday alleging that the tycoon had knowingly bribed South Korea’s former president.
Lee Jae-yong, the son of Samsung’s chairman, is the de facto head of the tech empire and allegedly paid tens of millions to an official close to former President Park Geun-hye, CNN reported Monday. Jae-yong pleaded not guilty to bribery, perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement, and hiding assets overseas.
“I have never asked anyone, including the president, for anything for the company or my personal gain,” Jae-yong said in trial. “I deeply regret that I have given such disappointment and apologize.”
Samsung sponsored the equestrian career of the daughter of one of Guen-hye’s confidantes and also contributed to at least two funds the former president supported, according to Reuters. Prosecutors argued that in return, Guen-hye ensured government support for a 2015 Samsung merger. The confidante, Choi Soon-sil, was sentenced in June to three years in prison. (RELATED: Scandals Leave South Korean Gov’t In Peril, And That’s Bad News For America)
Authorities have detained the vice-chairman since February, and he is barred from influencing operations at Samsung for the duration of the trial. The conglomerate’s alleged bribery is central to the corruption scandal that brought down the former president, who was impeached in December and arrested in March.
Jae-yong is one of five current and former Samsung executives to face trial in connection with the bribery scandal, but he faces the largest sentence. Choi Gee-sung, who had led Samsung’s corporate strategy office, faces ten years in prison. Despite the executives’ absence, however, Samsung reported record quarterly earnings in July.
The court’s decisions in the Samsung cases are sure to shed light on the expected verdict for the former president’s own trial, which began in May. She denies charges of coercion, corruption, and leaking confidential information.
The court said it will announce a verdict for Jae-yong’s case August 25.
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