Samsung Group head sentenced to five years in prison on bribery charges
Samsung Group Vice Chairman (and de facto head of the company) Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday on bribery charges, in what Reuters calls a watershed case for South Korea. Lee had been on trial for six months on charges that he paid bribes to associates of ousted President of South Korea Park Geun-hye — a trial which itself caused her ousting. The court also found Lee guilty of hiding assets abroad, embezzlement and perjury. The case has shaken the traditional ties between the state and South Korea’s powerful, family run businesses, called chaebols. Traditionally, chaebols have been afforded ample protection from the state, at times in the form of presidential pardons, because of their important roles in turning the country into a global economic power. Current president Moon Jae-in ran on a platform of reigning in the chaebols. The current “torch and pitchfork” rallies for the heads of businessmen seems eerily familiar to us here.