Samsung Group Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee was reportedly close to tears while giving his final statement in a high-profile case that saw him charged with corruption in the form of bribing government officials for personal gain, embezzlement of corporate funds, and perjury. On Monday, the prosecutors in charge of the case requested a 12-year prison sentence for Mr. Lee due to his involvement in the political scandal that shook the entire Far Eastern nation and resulted in the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. The recommended sentence will become the largest one ever issued to a conglomerate executive in South Korea if the court agrees with it.
While speaking in the courtroom of the Seoul Central District Court earlier today, Mr. Lee once again denied any wrongdoing and claimed that he didn't bribe or made any attempt to bribe former President Park and her associate Choi Soon-sil in any capacity and for any purpose, including the one alleged by the prosecutors. The authorities claim that Samsung's heir sanctioned over $37 million in bribes paid to several organizations connected to Ms. Park and Ms. Choi, as well as the latter's daughter Chung Yoo-ra. He was charged with doing so in an effort to ensure a 2015 merger of two Samsung Group-owned companies that streamlined succession proceedings within the South Korean chaebol and transitioned more management power to the part of the conglomerate controlled by the founding Lee family, a notion that the defendant's legal team labeled as being entirely constructed by the prosecutors.
Mr. Lee previously said that any donations paid by Samsung Group were sanctioned by the head of the company's Future Strategy Office and its chief Choi Gee-sung who previously confirmed that claim, though prosecutors only requested a 10-year prison sentence for Mr. Choi, explicitly stating that they believe Samsung Group Vice Chairman was the one who orchestrated the deal. The competent court is expected to announce its verdict on Friday, August 25, two days before Mr. Lee's arrest warrant is set to expire. The Seoul-based conglomerate and its flagship division Samsung Electronics are still doing more than well despite the fact that their top executive has been absent since February, though industry watchers remain skeptical regarding their long-term prospects if Mr. Lee is to be given a lengthy prison sentence.