Samsung heir released from prison following bribery scandal

Lee Jae-yong vice chairman of Samsung Electronics speaks before leaving a detention center in Uiwang South Korea

But the appeals court acknowledged as bribes only some 3.6 billion won which Samsung sent to Choi's German-based firm to sponsor the equestrian training of her daughter, Chung Yoo-ra. Lee had been sentenced last August to a five-decade prison for bribing former president south with aim of obtaining government favors in his consolidation as leader of group, embezzling funds, hiding foreign assets and perjury. He stood up and looked around with a blank stare after the ruling, and was blushing as he walked out of the courtroom.

Lee had been incarcerated for nearly a year since he was indicted.

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman, has been set free with a suspended prison sentence almost a year after he was imprisoned on corruption charges.

Liberal politician Moon Jae-in was elected the new president in May.

The suspended sentence is fueling doubts in South Korea over whether the country can enforce reforms on chaebols like Samsung, LG and Hyundai.

Lee's father Lee Kun-Hee went on to build up the tech empire but was convicted of bribery in 1996. The sprawling conglomerate has dozens of businesses in insurance, construction, advertising and shipbuilding.

Lee had been in custody since February 2017.

The scandal brought down the government of President Park Geun-hye previous year. Lee has not responded to the verdict.[26] Months later, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak pardoned Lee so he could remain on the International Olympic Committee.

The court found that Samsung sent the money overseas as kickbacks, not for the goal of concealing it.

The outrage spread into the streets of Seoul.

A Joong-Ang Ilbo article published on January 29 warned of "concerns voiced abroad" ahead of Lee's appeal verdict, compiling quotes from various foreign business experts and politicians about the potential negative effect of Lee's imprisonment on Samsung, the South Korean economy, and even the credibility of president Moon Jae-in and the South Korean government. The prosecution demanded a 12-year sentence for Samsung's vice chairman. "A soft punishment like this will further foster collusion between politics and businesses". "The essence of this case is that the defendant passively answered to political power".

"Park threatened Samsung Electronics executives", the judge said.

Similarly, his grandfather Lee Byung-Chull, who founded Samsung ("Three Stars") as a trading company in 1938, was engulfed in a huge case of smuggling involving his fertiliser manufacturing subsidiary in 1966. His absence hasn't impacted Samsung's business, which has posted a series of record financial returns over the past year. Samsung C&T's stock rose 2.1 percent. Last week, it reported its biggest ever annual profit. Such links once were seen as the key to South Korea's impressive rise from the ashes of its 1950-53 war but now are blamed for corruption, inequality and stifling innovation.

The cloud of controversy, however, may mean Lee will take a lower profile, said Kim, the former prosecutor. "The issue is the company's earnings and I think I need to be more conservative than previously about its earnings, due to concerns over various factors - a stronger won, USA trade and the OLED business". She is standing trial on charges of bribery, abuse of power, and coercion.