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12 years’ jail sought for Samsung’s Lee

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Lee Jae-yong (front R), vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., arrives for his trial. AFP

SEOUL (AFP) – South Korean prosecutors yesterday demanded the heir to the Samsung empire be jailed for 12 years over his role in the corruption scandal that brought down the country’s last president.

At the final hearing in the trial of Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, prosecutors called him the “ultimate beneficiary” of crimes committed in the scandal, which culminated in the impeachment and dismissal of president Park Geun-hye.

Mr Lee and four other executives are accused of bribing Ms Park’s powerful confidante with millions of dollars to win presidential favours and ease a controversial 2015 merger deal.

“The defendants were closely tied to power and sought personal gains,” the prosecutors said.

They sought a 12-year sentence for Mr Lee, and terms ranging from seven to ten years for three of his co-accused.

Mr Lee, 49, has effectively been at helm of the vast Samsung group, the world’s biggest smartphone maker and a sprawling business empire, since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

Taking the stand for the first time in his defence last week, Mr Lee claimed that he had no role in decision-making at the wider Samsung group and “mostly listened to other executives”.

His lawyers say the allegations were unjustified and the defendants never sought anything in return for the money that was donated.

The verdicts are expected later this month.

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