Sam­sung heir in silent mode dur­ing ap­peal

Pretoria News - - BUSINESS REPORT - Joyce Lee

THE HEIR TO South Korea’s Sam­sung Group, con­victed of brib­ing the coun­try’s for­mer pres­i­dent, ap­peared in a packed court yes­ter­day for the first day of ar­gu­ments in the ap­peal of his five-year jail term for cor­rup­tion.

The 49-year-old Jay Y Lee was con­victed by a lower court in Au­gust of brib­ing Park Geun-hye, who was dis­missed as pres­i­dent in March.

The court de­cided the bribe helped Lee strengthen his con­trol of the crown jewel in the con­glom­er­ate Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics, one of the world’s big­gest tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies.

The ap­pel­late court hear­ing the ap­peal is likely to try to rule on the case by next Fe­bru­ary, le­gal ex­perts said. Whichever side loses could take the case to the Supreme Court, the fi­nal court of ap­peal in South Korea.

Lee’s pres­ence marked his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since the Au­gust rul­ing. He did not speak dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings other than giv­ing his birth date and ad­dress.

The lower court in Au­gust had ruled that while Lee never asked for Park’s help di­rectly, the fact that a 2015 merger of two Sam­sung af­fil­i­ates did help ce­ment Lee’s con­trol over Sam­sung Elec­tron­ics “im­plied” he was ask­ing for the pres­i­dent’s help to strengthen his con­trol of the firm.

Lee, sit­ting mostly ex­pres­sion­less in a dark suit with­out tie, lis­tened to hours-long Pow­erPoint pre­sen­ta­tions by both sides ar­gu­ing over the lower court’s logic that Lee’s ac­tions “im­plied” so­lic­i­ta­tion for help from Park by pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial sup­port for Park’s close friend and con­fi­dante Choi Soon-sil.

Yes­ter­day, the de­fence strongly chal­lenged that logic.

“In or­der for im­plied so­lic­i­ta­tion to ex­ist, there needed to have been a level of word­less un­der­stand­ing between Lee and the for­mer pres­i­dent that tran­scended speak­ing,” said Lee In-jae, Jay Y Lee’s lead coun­sel.

The pros­e­cu­tion, which has lodged a cross-ap­peal against the lower court rul­ing that found Lee in­no­cent on some charges, said the court’s de­ci­sion to not ac­knowl­edge ex­plicit so­lic­i­ta­tion for Park’s help from Sam­sung de­spite the ev­i­dence found “did not make sense”.

The de­fence, which spent much of its time dur­ing the ini­tial trial re­fut­ing the pros­e­cu­tion’s in­di­vid­ual charges, said it would fo­cus on a few key ar­gu­ments in the ap­peal – in­clud­ing whether there was in fact an “or­di­nary type of bribery” as de­fined un­der South Korean law, which says only civil ser­vants come un­der the statute. Park’s friend Choi was not a civil ser­vant.

The lower court found that Sam­sung’s fi­nan­cial sup­port of 7.2 bil­lion won (R85.5 mil­lion) to spon­sor the eques­trian ca­reer of Choi’s daugh­ter con­sti­tuted an or­di­nary type of bribery, as “it can be con­sid­ered the same as she (Park) her­self re­ceiv­ing it.”

The de­fence is ex­pected to chal­lenge this by say­ing the pros­e­cu­tion has not proved col­lu­sion between Park and Choi.

The ap­peal hear­ing con­tin­ues on Oc­to­ber 19. – Reuters PROP­ERTY ty­coon Xu Ji­ayin has vaulted to the top of a Chi­nese rich list af­ter his wealth quadru­pled, knock­ing Wang Jian­lin off his long-time po­si­tion at num­ber one.

The Hu­run Re­port, the best known list of China’s wealth­i­est peo­ple, es­ti­mated that wealth held by Xu, founder of de­vel­oper Ever­grande, surged to $43 bil­lion (R584.22bn), mov­ing him up nine places from last year. Wang, head of real es­tate and leisure con­glom­er­ate Dalian Wanda Group, fell from first to fifth place as his wealth shrank 28 per­cent to $23bn, the re­port said. He had held the top spot since 2013.

The change re­flects Bei­jing’s ef­forts to tighten up on com­pa­nies pil­ing up debt to make mar­quee in­vest­ments abroad and in­stead en­cour­age en­trepreneurs to fo­cus on do­mes­tic growth.

Un­der Wang’s lead­er­ship, Dalian Wanda started as a real es­tate de­vel­oper and then branched out by ac­quir­ing a Hol­ly­wood stu­dio, US cin­ema chains, Spanish soc­cer teams and a Bri­tish yacht maker.

But his global am­bi­tions were thwarted as Bei­jing tight­ened up con­trols on out­bound in­vest­ment, both to rein in ex­ces­sive spend­ing on for­eign en­ter­tain­ment and sports as­sets not seen as use­ful for de­vel­op­ing China’s econ­omy and to avoid run­ning down the coun­try’s for­eign ex­change re­serves.

Ear­lier this year, Wanda sold off most of its Chi­nese theme parks and ho­tels to ri­vals, an abrupt turn­around from ear­lier plans to com­pete with Walt Dis­ney. – AP

Lee’s pres­ence marked his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since the rul­ing. He did not speak dur­ing the pro­ceed­ings.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.