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2017-08-25 02:43:03
Samsung Heir Is Found Guilty of Corruption in Blockbuster Trial

SEOUL, South Korea — A South Korean court on Friday convicted Lee Jae-yong, the heir to the Samsung business empire, of bribery and embezzlement, sentencing one of South Korea’s most important magnates to five years in prison and breaking with the country’s history of dealing light penalties to major business figures.

The decision may embolden South Korea’s leaders to put further pressure on the country’s family-controlled business empires, which helped build an economic powerhouse out of the ashes of the Korean War but are now widely seen as sources of corruption and impediments to the country’s progress.

It will also test whether Samsung — a conglomerate that includes the world-famous electronics maker as well as drug and shipbuilding businesses — can succeed without a member of the Lee family at the helm. Samsung Electronics has turned in strong results and bounced back from an embarrassing spate of fires involving its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, but Samsung has argued that Mr. Lee provides long-term strategic vision.

The court on Friday said there was sufficient evidence to side with prosecutors’ charges that Mr. Lee bribed the government, expecting to gain state support for a controversial merger of two Samsung-controlled companies. Through a complex web of shareholdings, that deal bolstered Mr. Lee’s control over Samsung Electronics, the conglomerate’s crown jewel.