S. Korean pros­e­cu­tors seek 12-year sen­tence for Sam­sung heir

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - WORLD -

SEOUL — South Korean pros­e­cu­tors rec­om­mended im­pris­on­ing the bil­lion­aire heir of the Sam­sung busi­ness em­pire for 12 years on Mon­day, urg­ing a court to con­vict him of bribery and other crimes in a na­tional cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

The pros­e­cu­tors’ rec­om­men­da­tion ends a four-month­long trial into al­le­ga­tions against Sam­sung’s 49-year-old vice chair­man, Lee Jae-yong. Lee was ar­rested ear­lier this year as the cor­rup­tion scan­dal prompted months of mas­sive pub­lic protests that cul­mi­nated in the ouster of pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye.

In his clos­ing re­marks, spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Park Young­soo said Sam­sung’s al­leged brib­ing of the pres­i­dent was typ­i­cal of the cor­rupt and cozy ties be­tween the gov­ern­ment and big busi­nesses.

Such deal­ings once helped fuel the coun­try’s rapid in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion but now in­creas­ingly are be­ing scru­ti­nized as il­le­gal and un­fair. Park ac­cused Sam­sung of­fi­cials of ly­ing in their tes­ti­monies to pro­tect Lee.

Lee was in­dicted in Fe­bru­ary on charges that in­cluded of­fer­ing $38 mil­lion in bribes to four en­ti­ties con­trolled by a friend of then-pres­i­dent Park. Pros­e­cu­tors be­lieved that the bribery was of­fered in ex­change for gov­ern­ment help with a merger that strength­ened Lee’s con­trol over Sam­sung at a cru­cial time for or­ga­niz­ing a smooth leader- ship tran­si­tion af­ter his fa­ther fell ill. Pros­e­cu­tors al­lege the money was paid to a com­pany in Ger­many to bankroll eques­trian train­ing for the daugh­ter of a friend of Park.

Park was re­moved from of­fice in March and is be­ing tried separately. Her friend Choi Soon-sil also is on trial.

Lee has de­nied all charges. He has said he did not know of Choi or her daugh­ter be­fore the scan­dal grabbed na­tional head­lines and said the suc­ces­sion sit­u­a­tion at Sam­sung was not dis­cussed dur­ing three meet­ings he held with the former pres­i­dent.

Sam­sung’s lawyers do not con­test hav­ing do­nated a large sum of money to en­ti­ties con­trolled by Choi. They disa- greed with the pros­e­cu­tors re­gard­ing the na­ture of the fund and in­sisted that at the time the do­na­tions were made Sam­sung was un­aware that Choi con­trolled them.

Pros­e­cu­tors also are seek­ing heavy penal­ties for four other former Sam­sung ex­ec­u­tives who had be­longed to a once-pow­er­ful cor­po­rate strat­egy of­fice that han­dled such ac­tiv­i­ties.

Pros­e­cu­tors asked the court to im­prison Lee’s men­tor Choi Gee-sung, a former vice-chair­man at Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics, for 10 years. They are seek­ing seven to 10 year prison terms for three other former Sam­sung ex­ec­u­tives.

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