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Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong

Samsung’s heir was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption

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A court in Seoul, South Korea on Friday sentenced the billionaire heir to Samsung Electronics to five years in prison.

The Seoul Central District Court said that Lee Jae-yong, 49, was guilty of offering bribes to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and one of her close friends.

The bribes were reportedly offered when Park led South Korean and were aimed at gaining government support Lee to solidify his power over Samsung.

A panel of three judges also found Lee guilty of embezzling Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas, concealing profit from criminal acts and perjury. Prosecutors had sought a 12-year prison term following Lee’s arrest last February, an incident which sparked enough outrage to get Park removed from office.

Some Twitter users on Friday voiced amazement at the news involving Lee, who is the Samsung founder’s grandson and the global electronics company’s vice chairman.

The Seoul court said Friday that Lee and Samsung executives had caused “a big negative effect” to South Korea’s economy and society.

“The essence of the case is unethical collusion between political power and capital,” it said in a statement. “[It led to] mistrust in the morality of the Samsung group.”

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Lee stood accused of offering $38 million in bribes to four entities controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a longstanding friend of Park.

The Samsung executive was allegedly seeking government aid with a merger that strengthened Lee’s control over the company following his father’s heart attack in 2014.

Lee claimed innocence during the court hearing, pledging he was unaware of the donations made or foundations that benefited from them.

Samsung has not denied transferring corporate funds, and the transactions were overseen by other executives besides Lee.

Park was embroiled in numerous scandals during her presidency, leading to her ouster in March after major protests in South Korea.

The former South Korean president and Choi are currently on trial, and at least four other Samsung executives charged with Lee were also found guilty.

Choi Gee-sung and Chang Choong-ki received four years in prison, while two other former executives received suspended prison terms.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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