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Jailing of Samsung heir raises questions over company's outlook

Jailing of Samsung heir raises questions over company's outlook

Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto head of Samsung's business empire, has today been convicted on corruption charges and sentenced to five years imprisonment.

A panel of three judges also found Lee guilty of embezzling Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas, concealing profit from criminal acts and perjury.

This week, Samsung's billionaire heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong sentenced to five years in prison for bribery. In return, they were promised of government support in the merger of two Samsung Group entities that ended up cementing the younger Lee's control over the conglomerate.

Lee denied any involvement and any wrongdoing in the scandal and his lawyer said that he would appeal the conviction.

Via her friendship with Park, Choi was found guilty of meddling in state affairs, as well as wielding influence over large conglomerates in the country.

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Many assumed that the courts would only minimally censure the Samsung executives, given the company's importance and prevalence in South Korea.

The case, which South Korean press labelled the "trial of the century", is thought to have spooked investors who are concerned that a power vacuum may prevent the company and its subsidiaries from making decisions. The same investigation that led to the impeachment of former-president Park Geun-hye. Park allegedly gave Choi access to government documents for which she had no clearance. Former Samsung Corporate Strategy Office chief Choi Gee-sung and former President Chang Choong-ki each received four years in prison and two other executives received suspended prison terms.

Samsung, one of the companies credited with helping rebuild war-torn South Korea, is now assumed to be neck-deep in corruption.

The verdict sends the strongest message yet to South Korea's big, family-controlled businesses that their more than 60 years of economic dominance in one of the world's most successful economies is under threat.

Jae-yong became the Samsung president in 2009, while in 2013 he was made the vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, which makes smartphones, televisions, cameras and hard drives. Shares of Samsung Electronics, where Lee is the vice chairman, finished down 1.05 percent at 2,351,000 won.

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