SEOUL – Samsung’s vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong appeared on Friday in court over the reconsideration of a high-profile case in which he stands accused of bribing a longtime friend of South Korea’s disgraced former president Park Geun-hye to help him succeed his father at the company’s helm.
Lee arrived at 9:29 am at the Seoul High Court amid chants of support and disapproval from those that had gathered.
“[I] feel very sorry for causing concern to many people,” Lee told reporters before entering the court, but was silent when asked about how he viewed the final ruling’s prospects.
In 2017, Lee was handed a five-year prison sentence for paying Park’s close friend Choi Soon-sil – who had influence over the former president, earning her the nickname “Korean Rasputin” – 3.6 billion won ($3.06 million) in bribes to help him become the leader of his father’s Samsung Group.
The case is part of a larger one that saw both Park and Choi jailed over the latter’s inappropriate access to confidential state information and influence on decision-making through the former.
Lee was freed the following year after his sentence was cut to two-and-a-half years and most of the charges were dropped.
But the Supreme Court later said the Samsung Electronics vice-president should be found guilty for another 5 million won in bribes to Choi which weren’t included in the earlier ruling.
It added that three horses worth 3.4 billion won gifted to Park’s friend should be considered bribes – something previously overlooked because Samsung hadn’t given Choi ownership of them.
The court equally found a 1.6 billion-won donation made by the electronics company to a sports foundation that Choi’s family ran could be considered a bribe.
In August, the Supreme Court also ordered Choi and Park’s cases reviewed. The hearing for Choi’s case is set to begin Wednesday at the Seoul High Court. The date for Park’s hearing remains unknown.