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Top court will rule on Lee Jae-yong next month, at earliest

Originally, many expected that the Supreme Court will make a decision on Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto chief of Korea’s top conglomerate, this month.

But the top court had another hearing on May 23, which means that the 13-member justice panel will come up with a verdict next month, at earliest.

Legal experts thought that the top court wrapped up hearings on the attention-grabbing case last month by having the fourth one. But they were wrong.

In early 2017, Vice Chairman Lee was indicted for offering bribes to former President Park Geun-hye and her aid Choi Soon-sil in return for their help in beefing up his control over Samsung.

Later in the year, a Seoul district court sentenced the tycoon to five years in prison. He was released in early 2018 when an appellate court halved his sentence and suspended it.

Observers are at two opposing camps on whether the Supreme Court will uphold the decision of the appeals court.

Depending on the final verdict, the 51-year-old billionaire businessman runs the risk of returning to the prison.

Vice Chairman Lee is the only son of bed-ridden Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee. He is now leading the group, the country’s top player by any measure with its flagship affiliate being Samsung Electronics.

 

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