Billionaire Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong jailed for five years

National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun speaks during a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea in Seoul on Aug. 24 2017

A court has sentenced Lee Jae-yong, the acting chairman of the Samsung company, to five years in prison after finding him guilty of offering bribes and other crimes.

Lee was also convicted of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealing criminal profits and perjury.

Samsung stated it will appeal the decision and claimed that Lee is innocent of all wrongdoings.

Lee was initially detained in February on charges that he bribed then-president Park Geun-hye to help secure control of the conglomerate that owns Samsung Electronics, the world's leading smartphone and chip maker.

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The court also said the amount included $6.4 million to sponsor the equestrian career of Choi's daughter. Lee, who has been in jail since he was arrested earlier this year, was led back into custody.

Plus, Samsung's defense is likely to argue against the lower court's interpretation that giving financial support to Park's confidant Choi Soon-sil is "effectively the same as Park herself receiving it", the lawyers said.

Lee, 49, can be kept in detention for a maximum of four months while the court considers his appeal.

The court said Park "was aware that the succession of management control to Lee was a major issue at Samsung and demanded funding for [Choi's daughter] Chung Yoo-ra and a youth winter sports foundation in a private meeting".

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"We hope this will be the first step in cutting the stubborn ties of corruption between politics and business, which has been a roadblock to progress in our society", said Yoon Young-chan, senior secretary at the Blue House, the South Korean president's executive office and residence.

Samsung Electronics Co.'s chief executive urged his employees to stay focused on their work following last week's conviction of Samsung's de facto leader, and punctuated that business-as-usual appeal with a fresh $2.3 billion investment in semiconductors. The trials are now being carried out separately, but given that these charges are two sides of the same coin, the judges assigned to the Park case can't help but take this judgement into consideration.

Lee's imprisonment as an "unprecedented challenge" and encouraged staff to continue working hard as they wait for "the truth to come to light". Lee has two sisters, but neither has been heavily involved in Samsung Electronics, which is widely regarded as the center of the Samsung empire.

Friday's lower court ruling has several aspects that open the way for an appeal, the criminal lawyers told Reuters.

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The dual moves on Monday appeared meant to send a message of steadiness and continuity as Samsung, one of the world's biggest technology companies, navigates a precarious period. Twice convicted of tax evasion and bribery, the elder Lee never spent any time in prison.

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