Jailed Samsung heir pressured to resign from board

Jailed Samsung heir pressured to resign from board

Samsung, founded in 1938 by Lee's grandfather, is a household name in South Korea and a symbol of the country's dramatic rise from poverty following the 1950-53 Korean War.

The Seoul Central Court announced that 49-year old Lee Jae Yong was guilty for offering bribes to cement the control of Samsung in South Korea with the support of the government.

"The family had an extraordinary influence over Park Geun-hye for essentially her entire adult life", David Kang, a Korea expert at the University of Southern California, told CNN previous year.

The court also found Lee guilty of hiding assets overseas, embezzlement and perjury. Lee has been accused of offering bribes of 38 million United States dollars for various departments after the death of his father.

Korean KoonAng Daily - a company known for close ties with the Samsung Group - stated, "Samsung lawyers will have a good case for an appeal", and that "No companies can resist such blunt demands from a president who has the final say in economic policy".

In 2015, US hedge fund Elliot Management filed for an injunction against the merger of two Samsung units created to cement a power transfer to the heir apparent of Samsung Group from his ailing father Lee Kun-hee, who has been bedridden since May 2014 due to a heart attack.

South Korean media were divided Monday over the jailing of the heir to the Samsung empire, with some newspapers condemning the ruling and others accusing rivals of "kneeling" before the rich.

Lee's attorneys immediately said they would appeal, and experts said it would likely go all the way to the country's supreme court.

The sentencing is the latest episode in a scandal that saw millions of South Koreans protest last autumn, leading Park to be ousted.

The decision will test whether Samsung can succeed without the crown prince of the Lee family at the helm. Lee Kun-hee, the current chairman of Samsung Electronics, slipped into a coma three years ago. Lee has two sisters, but neither has been heavily involved in Samsung Electronics, which is widely regarded as the center of the Samsung empire.

Samsung is by far the biggest of the chaebols, with its revenues equivalent to around a fifth of the country's GDP.

The party chief expressed the hope that the case may act as an opportunity for Samsung to become a socially responsible company.

"Lee's imprisonment shows they are down to business quite seriously this time". Some were pardoned and others got sentences reduced on appeal.

As global tech giants are aggressively making investments to take the lead in the artificial intelligence, Internet-of-Things and virtual reality industries, industry watchers said the prolonged absence in Samsung's leadership may cause the company to fall behind the competition.

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