South Korea seeks 12-year jail term for Samsung's Lee

Lee Jae-yong faces charges of allegedly bribing impeached President Park to help cement control of the business empire.

    South Korea seeks 12-year jail term for Samsung's Lee
    Lee (R) is on trial for charges ranging from embezzlement to perjury [Ahn Young-joon/Reuters]

    South Korean prosecutors have demanded a 12-year jail term for Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong over his role in the corruption scandal that brought down former President Park Geun-hye.

    Lee, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, has been in detention since February over charges that include allegedly bribing Park's long-time friend Choi Soon-sil for government support to help him cement control of the group.

    At the final hearing of his trial on Monday, prosecutors called Lee the "ultimate beneficiary" of crimes committed in the scandal, which sparked massive protests in the country and ultimately led to the impeachment of Park. 

    The impeached president is also on trial over 18 charges. She could be imprisoned for life if convicted.

    READ MORE: After Park's ouster, what is next for South Korea?

    "Even though Lee is the ultimate receiver of the gains [from this bribery case], he has been pushing the responsibility to others accused," one of the team of special prosecutors told the court.

    Park Geun-hye trial: Former South Korean president accused of corruption

    Lee and four other executives are accused of paying or promising Choi, who was handed a three-year jail term in June, more than $38m to win presidential favours and ease a controversial 2015 merger deal.

    "The defendants were closely tied to power and sought personal gains," the prosecutors said.

    They sought a 12-year sentence for Lee, and terms ranging from seven to 10 years for three of his co-accused.

    Lee is also accused of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealment of criminal proceeds and perjury,

    Lee, 49, has effectively been at the helm of the vast Samsung Group, the world's biggest smartphone maker and a sprawling business empire, since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

    Taking the stand for the first time in his defence last week, Lee claimed that he had no role in decision-making at the wider Samsung Group and "mostly listened to other executives".

    His lawyers argued that his so-called overarching intention of cementing ownership control was "a fictional construct" made up by prosecutors.

    The court ruling is expected before August 27, when Lee's current period of detention ends.

    WATCH Inside Story: The future of South Korea after Park Geun-hye

    SOURCE: News agencies


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