FILE PHOTO – Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman, Jay Y. Lee, arrives at a court in Seoul, South Korea, October 12, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Supreme Court said it will rule next Thursday on whether to uphold the reduced sentence given to Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee or ask an appeals court to revisit a case that was part of a graft scandal that brought down the country’s then-president in 2017.
The 51-year old Lee was convicted of bribing Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of former President Park Geun-hye. He was handed a five-year jail term, but was released in February 2018 after an appeals court reduced the punishment to a suspended prison sentence on charges of bribery, embezzlement and other convictions.
Both Lee and state prosecutors appealed to the Supreme Court, leaving the top court with the options of either upholding the appeals court’s ruling or asking it to reconsider its judgment, legal experts say.
Samsung was not immediately available for comment on the latest development.
The Supreme Court is also set to rule on appeals court decisions in the cases against Park and Choi.
Park was impeached following the scandal that put the cosy ties between South Korea’s political leaders and large conglomerates under scrutiny.
Samsung Electronics, the world’s leading smartphone and chip maker, is facing headwinds such as a U.S.-China trade war and Japan’s tighter export curbs.
Samsung’s biotech affiliate, Samsung BioLogics (207940.KS), is also under investigation from prosecutors over a suspected accounting fraud, with some executives arrested for their alleged roles in the case.
Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Hyunjoo Jin; editing by Simon Cameron-Moore