Samsung heir released after one year detention

Samsung heir released after one year detention

A South Korean court on Monday suspended a prison sentence for Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong, effectively allowing him to walk free after serving a year in custody.

The de facto leader of the huge Samsung business empire is getting out of jail sooner than expected.

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.

Lee, the son of Samsung's ailing chairman, has been in jail for almost a year.

His first stop after leaving prison was a hospital where his father has been treated since he suffered a heart attack in 2014. Lee was found guilty of bribery and embezzlement in a Seoul courtroom last August, but maintained his complete innocence throughout the trial process. For now, Lee is looking at four years of probation, though he said he plans to appeal the remaining guilty verdicts. It is not even that he bothered to cut a deal with prosecutors - he denied the lot. The executive - heir to the Samsung chaebol - was found guilty of bribery and embezzlement in a case that brought down South Korean president Park Geun-hye past year. Park was charged with forcing major corporations, including Samsung, to donate to foundations controlled by Choi, taking bribes, and to sign contracts beneficial for Choi and her associates.

Lee was seen bowing to court officials before leaving the court building with a smile on his face.

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"Republic of Samsung" and the name of the judge who handed down Monday's verdict were among the top trending words on Twitter.

He started his career at Samsung Electronics in 1991 before a rapid climb up the corporate ladder - common among offspring of the founding families of the South's powerful family-run conglomerates known as chaebol.

The suspended sentence is fueling doubts in South Korea over whether the country can enforce reforms on chaebols like Samsung, LG and Hyundai.

The appeals court reduced the amount which Lee had paid as bribes to 3.6 billion won, which Lee had sent to Choi's Germany-based company to sponsor training for her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra.

Investors say Lee will face the daunting tasks of trying to find the right direction for growth and making big investment decisions, although Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest maker of semiconductors and smartphones, performed well with Lee behind bars for the past year.

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