Ex-Samsung Chief Given 3-year Suspended Jail TermBy Reuters - | Posted 2008-07-16 Email Print
Samsung executive Lee Jun-hee gets a suspended sentence for tax evasion.
SEOUL (Reuters) - Former Samsung Group chief Lee Kun-hee, one of South Korea's most powerful businessmen, was handed a 3-year suspended jail sentence on Wednesday for tax evasion, but was cleared of other charges.
The court also fined Lee 110 billion won ($109 million), more than double the amount of taxes he evaded, but cleared him of charges of breach of trust and illegal issuance of bonds aimed at transferring wealth to his children.
His jail sentence was suspended for five years.
Analysts and experts had expected Lee to escape prolonged jail time because judges have often been lenient to South Korean corporate leaders convicted of white collar crimes on the basis that putting them behind bars could hurt business.
The decision not to incarcerate Lee comes only a month after the head of world's No. 6 automaker, Hyundai Motor, was also given a three-year suspended jail sentence after being found guilty of fraud.
"We ruled against an actual jail sentence as the degree of illegality was not significant enough," Judge Min Byong-hoon said.
South Korean prosecutors had sought a seven-year jail term and a 350 billion won fine for Lee, who led the country's biggest conglomerate for nearly 20 years.
Forbes magazine in March estimated Lee's personal fortune at around $2 billion, and his son's was assessed at around $1.7 billion.