SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean court will bring Samsung Electronics Co Ltd heir Jay Y. Lee on Monday on bribery charges, a ruling likely to have implications for his tech giant’s leadership and South Korean views. towards large companies.
If Lee is imprisoned, he will be sidelined from important decision-making process in Samsung Electronics as it strives to outdo competitors, and will be deflected from oversee the inheritance process from his father, who died in October, crucial to maintaining control of Samsung.
If Lee remains free, he will be able to devote himself to both of them while likely facing severe backlash by arguing that the South Korean legal process shows undue indulgence towards chaebol, or family-owned conglomerates, criticized for wielding too much power amidst declines in governance.
Lee, 52, was convicted of bribing an associate of former President Park Geun-hye and was jailed for five years in 2017. He denied wrongdoing, his sentence was reduced and suspended on appeal, and was released later. having served a year.
The Supreme Court then referred the case to the Seoul High Court, which will rule on it, and the ruling on Monday.
Under South Korean law, a prison sentence of three years or less can be suspended; for longer sentences, the person must serve the term of exclusion of the presidential pardon.
Prosecutors have called for a nine-year prison sentence.
If imprisoned, the year in which Lee has already served his sentence will count towards the sentence, as this is the case.
Monday’s ruling can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
“In a case returned by the Supreme Court, there is a narrower range of options for the judges’ bench … but it is also true that the Supreme Court cannot really touch the final court ruling, no matter what it is,” said Rha Seung-chul, a lawyer not connected to the case.
Reporting by Joyce Lee. Editing by Gerry Doyle