S Korea's Supreme Court orders retrial for Samsung heir Jay Y Lee

Supreme Court says interpretation by Seoul High Court on what constituted bribes to then-President Park was too narrow.

    Lee is poised to take control of the Samsung Group from his father [File: Ahn Young-joon/AP]
    Lee is poised to take control of the Samsung Group from his father [File: Ahn Young-joon/AP]
    29 August 2019: An earlier headline for this story identified Lee as the 'ex-leader' of Samsung. He is the current vice chairman of the company.

    South Korea's Supreme Court on Thursday overturned part of an appeals court ruling in the bribery case of Samsung Group's de facto chief, Jay Y Lee, who had been given a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for seeking favour from the country's former President Park Geun-hye.

    The Supreme Court said the interpretation by the Seoul High Court on what constituted bribes by Samsung to Park was too narrow.

    Lee, 51, was initially handed a five-year jail sentenced in 2017 for bribing a friend of Park's as he sought to succeed his father and secure control of the Samsung Group.

    He was freed in early February 2018 after a year in detention when the Seoul High Court halved his sentence and suspended it for four years.

    Lee is poised to take control of the Samsung Group from his aged father and is currently the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world's largest maker of smartphones and memory chips.

    Samsung Electronics is currently battling falling profitability as prices of chips and display panels slide.

    It also has to contend with Japan's decision last month to restrict exports of chipmaking chemicals to South Korea following a diplomatic dispute. Japan dominates the market for restricted chemicals.

    Lee has since embarked on a high-profile mission to tackle what he calls a "crisis".

    Investigations at Samsung BioLogics Co Ltd which prosecutors suspect breached accounting rules is another obstacle faced by the group.

    In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, Samsung Electronics said it deeply regrets that the case "has created concerns across the society".

    "We will renew our commitment to carrying out the role of a responsible corporate citizen and will avoid a recurrence of past mistakes."

    Samsung also acknowledged that in the "past few years" it has faced challenges that "constrained in our efforts to focus on leading new businesses for the future."

    It promised to "rise above the challenges and continue to contribute to the broader economy."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies