Friday, October 30, 2020

Samsung heir Lee J.Y faces new fraud charges over merger deal

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Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong is facing fresh charges of over his role in a 2015 merger deal at the tech giant.

South Korean prosecutors accused Lee, 52, of using stock and accounting fraud to try to gain control of the Samsung Group – claims Mr Lee denies.

In 2017, Lee was found guilty of separate charges over the deal including bribery, but his five-year prison sentence was later suspended.

He is unlikely to be held in custody as he awaits trial on the new charges.

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The prosecution, however, disregarded a recommendation from a citizen’s panel that Lee should not be charged.

In June, state prosecutors sought to arrest Lee for the second time over the controversial merger in 2015 of two Samsung businesses, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries.

It follows his 2017 conviction over the merger, which sparked a political and business scandal in South Korea – including the resignation and conviction of former President Park Geun-hye.

Back then, Lee was found guilty of using Samsung to pay 43bn won ($35.7m; £28.1m) to two non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Ms Park, in exchange for political support.

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The deal needed support from South Korea’s state-run national pension fund and the former president’s help was allegedly sought.

The deal was said to have paved the way for Lee to become the head of the Samsung conglomerate.

Lee was convicted of charges including bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury and a court sent him to prison for five years.

But six months later that sentence was halved, and the Seoul High Court decided to suspend the jail term, meaning he was free to go.

At the time, Lee denied the charges. He admitted making donations but said Samsung did not want anything in return.

Also known as Jay Y Lee, he is the son of Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest conglomerate. He is also the grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul.

Original article on bbc.com

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