Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, faces a nine-year prison sentence for bribery that contributed to the overthrow of former President Park Guen-hye. Prosecutors argued that the length of the verdict was justified by Samsung's power as the largest family-owned chaebol or conglomerate in South Korea.
"Samsung is a group with such overwhelming power that Korean companies are being split into Samsung and non-Samsung," the Korea Herald reported at a closing hearing on Wednesday. The final decision is scheduled for January 18th.
The bribery case is separate from another process Lee is involved in for alleged accounting fraud and stock price manipulation. The hearings on this case began in October.
The bribery case dates back to 2017, when Lee was convicted of bribing Park and her close associate Choi Soon-sil and was sentenced to five years in prison. Prosecutors claim the bribes were intended to secure government support for Lee's attempt to inherit control of Samsung from his father Lee Kun-hee, the then chairman. The illegal payments were an integral part of the corruption scandal that resulted in Park's impeachment, arrest and 25-year prison sentence.
Lee was released in 2018 after the appeals verdict was downgraded and suspended, and returned as the de facto head of Samsung, a position he took after his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.
However, in August 2019, the Supreme Court overturned the Court of Appeals, ruling that it was too lenient and ordered the case to be retried in the Seoul Supreme Court.
The elderly Lee, who was reputedly South Korea's richest citizen, died in October. It was estimated to be worth $ 20.7 billion and under the country's tax regime, and his heirs could be liable for estate taxes of about $ 10 billion, Fortune reported.
. has approached Samsung for a comment.