Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong back behind bars over corruption scandal

Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong has been sent back to jail after receiving a two-and- a-half year sentence over his involvement in a major corruption scandal.

The 52-year-old, South Korea’s most powerful businessman, was convicted at a retrial on charges of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of criminal proceeds worth about 8.6 billion won (£5.7m).

It leaves Lee sidelined for the time being from major decision making at the company, one of the world’s largest makers of computer chips and smartphones.

Shares dipped 3%.

Lee had previously served a year behind bars for bribing an associate of former president Park Geun-hye before an appeals court suspended the jail term in 2018.

A year later, the supreme court ordered a retrial. Time served will count towards the latest sentence.

Lee’s lawyer Lee In-jae said: “This case involves the former president’s abuse of power violating corporate freedom and property rights… The court’s decision is regrettable.”

The Samsung vice chairman’s sentence complicates the process of inheritance from his father, who died in October.

Analysts said the court’s decision was unlikely to affect day-to-day operations at the company though large-scale decisions with longer term impacts – such as takeovers and major personnel changes – could be impacted.

Samsung has performed robustly in the latest financial year, with its semiconductor business rebounding thanks to strong demand for PCs and servers during lockdowns.

Meanwhile sanctions against Huawei have hindered a company that is one of Samsung’s biggest rivals in smartphones, smartphone chips and telecoms equipment.

Samsung said earlier this month that it was on course to report a 26% rise in operating profit to 9trn won (£6bn) for the last quarter.

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