Samsung's Heir-Apparent Has Been Released From Prison by an Appeals Court

By Tom Pritchard on at

Back in August news broke that Lee Jae-yong, billionaire heir-apparent to the Samsung corporation, had been found guilty of charges involving corruption and sentenced to five years in prison. Lee had been arrested just under 12 months ago, and had continued to deny the charges brought against him. Now he's been freed, thanks to a South Korean court of appeals.

The court used its own discretion to suspend the five year jail sentence, despite upholding some of the charges brought against Me Lee. The decision is likely to be appealing again in the Supreme Court, meaning this definitely isn't the last we've heard of the case - which has gripped the public amid growing anger towards the influence big corporations have on South Korean society.

The initial charges brought against Mr Lee included bribery, embezzlement, and helped to expose tied between political groups and family-run multinational corporations. The resulting political scandal was also instrumental in bringing down former president Park Geun-hye, who was impeached last March.

While sources have told BBC News that Samsung's share price hasn't really been affected by Lee's imprisonment in the short term, the fact he's now been released is going to be a relief to many. Lee has been effectively been in control of the company since his father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, was incapacitated by a heart attack back in 2014.

BBC News also points out that there are likely to be political implications to this move, because of the link between Lee and the former president. Current South Korean president Moon Jae-in was elected on a promise that he would tackle corruption within the country, something that goes against what a lot of people will view as a free pass for Mr Lee. [BBC News]

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