Crime & Justice

Samsung leader returns to court a week after being released

Seoul, Aug 19 (EFE).- Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong appeared Thursday before a Seoul court trying him for alleged fraud and manipulation of assets, just a week after he was released from prison, where he was jailed for corruption, thanks to a government pardon.

Lee was formally charged in September with various crimes surrounding the controversial merger of two group companies in 2015 that strengthened his control over the conglomerate.

The businessman and several executives are accused of manipulating the price of stock assets, violating the law of external audits and carrying out unfair commercial practices.

The prosecution believes that the value of Cheil Industries, one of the two group companies that merged and of which Lee was the majority shareholder, was artificially inflated, and the opposite was done with the other company involved, Samsung C&T.

The value of Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture between United States-based Biogen and Samsung Biologics, which is a Cheil subsidiary, is also believed to have been inflated by about 4.5 trillion won ($ 3.8 billion).

Lee, who denied the charges before the court that is trying him, was released Friday from prison – where he was admitted for more than a year and a half for his role in the corruption plot of the so-called “South Korean Rasputin.” This was thanks to a pardon granted by the government on the basis that he had already served 60 percent of his sentence.

The government did not answer journalists Thursday at the court entrance about Lee’s prohibition to work for the Samsung group for five years to maintain his freedom.

However, as Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said Thursday, Lee has not received any salary from Samsung or held any executive position for five years, so technically his work for the conglomerate cannot be sanctioned.

The government also said granting Lee’s pardon is of “national interest” for the economy, since he leads the business group that generates 20 percent of South Korean gross domestic product (GDP).

The magnate is also pending with South Korean justice another case for the alleged recreational use of propofol, an injectable drug that is used as an anesthetic in certain medical procedures. EFE


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