Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y Lee to two and a half years in prison.
Billionaire Lee Jae- Yong in Jail again.
Samsung Group is in turmoil again, its de facto chief, Lee Jae-yong, again imprisoned in a bribery case, sparking worries that uncertainties may further increase over business and investment plans by the global tech behemoth in the post-pandemic era.
Seoul court on Monday sentenced Samsung heir Lee to 2 1/2 years in prison in a retrial of a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye and ordered him returned to prison.
The Seoul High Court gave Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., the prison term for bribing Park and her longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil, to win government support for a smooth father-to-son transfer of managerial power at Samsung, the country’s top conglomerate. Park was later impeached and ousted from the presidency for corruption and abuse of power.
He was sentenced to five years in prison but was freed in 2018 after the Seoul High Court reduced the sentence to 2 1/2 years, suspended for four years.
The Supreme Court, however, in 2019 overturned the previous court ruling and sent it back to the Seoul High Court for review.
Samsung has been thrown into full emergency mode as Lee’s signature drive, “New Samsung,” may fall apart amid its efforts to overcome uncertainties caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Industry experts said Lee’s absence is likely to delay or stop Samsung’s key business decisions, such as merger and acquisition (M&A) deals, as foreign rivals prepare for new opportunities in the post-pandemic era.
Lee’s incarceration comes at a time when the group’s crown jewel, Samsung Electronics Co., the world’s largest memory chip and smartphone maker, is facing challenges from its rivals.
SK hynix Inc., the No. 2 player in the memory sector, recently announced a deal to acquire Intel Corp.’s NAND business to catch up to Samsung Electronics.
In the smartphone business, Apple Inc. has been sharply increasing sales of its first 5G smartphone, the iPhone 12, to dethrone its South Korean competitor.