South Korea court suspends jail term for Samsung's heir

South Korea court suspends jail term for Samsung's heir

In addition to Lee, four more top Samsung executives were convicted and received sentences of up to four years.

Lee then tried to appeal his sentence that prosecutors asked for and on Monday the high court reduced his sentence by two and a half years. However, the allegations forced her to step down, making her the only president in South Korea's modern history to not complete their entire presidential term. Lee was the highest-profile business person caught up in the scandal, which eventually led to Park's impeachment.

Lee added that he would visit his father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, in hospital. He left the court shortly after the verdict was read, climbing into a bus that was waiting outside.

Lee Jae-yong center vice chairman of Samsung Electronics arrives at the Seoul High Court for a hearing in Seoul South Korea Monday Feb. 5 2018
Lee Jae-yong center vice chairman of Samsung Electronics arrives at the Seoul High Court for a hearing in Seoul South Korea Monday Feb. 5 2018

Lee was also found not guilty in overseas tax evasion - money paid to a foundation in Germany - a key reason for the reduction of sentence.

The appeals court said that Lee had "passively" complied with a request from Park to sponsor Chung as a result of being intimidated by both Park and Choi. "Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil should be seen as the main players in this scandal", said one of the judges during the ruling on Lee's case, according to AFP.

Lee, who is 49, maintained his innocence during a five-month-long trial past year that centered around accusations Samsung had paid or promised to pay $38 million in bribes to the president's confidante in return for favorable treatment from regulators. He has spent close to a year in detention and has been released for the next four years on probation.

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"South Korea goes notoriously light on white collar crime", said Geoffrey Cain, the author of a forthcoming book on Samsung.

Leaving the detention center at about 4:40 p.m. local time (0740 GMT), Lee told reporters that he was sorry for the matter, saying the past year was a previous time during which he was reflecting on himself. "But this appeal really suggests nothing has changed". Its combined businesses are estimated to account for around 15% of the country's entire economy.

Lee is expected to make public appearances in the coming days.

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It is considered to be the crown jewel of the country's largest conglomerate and one of the world's biggest technology companies.

Samsung reported record profit last week disclosing numbers that it's chip business pulls in more revenue than the intel corp.

It wasn't clear whether Lee would immediately return to Samsung and take on any formal role.

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