He is now a free man after a panel of judges ruled to suspend his sentence.
Jay Y. Lee is the vice chairman of Samsung Group, the eldest child of Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung, and a business man with a net worth of just under $8 billion. However, for the last year he’s been detained on bribery and embezzlement charges. But today, a panel of judges decided to suspend Lee’s sentence and he is now a free man.
As Reuters reports, Lee was arrested in February last year and sentenced to five years in jail after being found guilty of corruption in August. The charges related to dealing with former South Korean President Park who was impeached last March due to her dealings with political leaders and Samsung executives. She is standing trial on charges of bribery, abuse of power, and coercion.
Lee supported the equestrian career of the daughter of one of Park’s friends, which was viewed as a bribe. The reason Lee’s sentence was cut in half in the appeals court is due to the judges finding that Lee did not seek any help in return for the support. They also concluded Lee only paid 3.3 billion won ($3.31 million) as opposed to the 7.2 billion won originally stated. Cheong Hyung-sik, the senior judge presiding over the appeals court case described Lee’s involvement as “passive compliance with political power.”
The emphasis has clearly been put on Park pushing and even threatening Samsung executives to pay up. Now, with the sentence cut in half and suspended, it is unlikely Lee will be held again and can instead return to his vice chairman position at Samsung.
It is unclear how big of a role he will now play in Samsung’s future. It has been suggested he may keep a low profile to protect Samsung corporate image. After all, Park’s trial could reveal further evidence of her dealings with Samsung and with Lee in particular.