Disgraced heir to the Samsung Jay Y Lee has begun his appeal against a five-year jail term handed down to him in August. Lee was convicted of bribing former president Park Geun-hye to strengthen his control over Samsung. The conviction is part of a wider corruption investigation into Park, who herself faces conviction before the end of the year.
However, Lee is refusing to go down without a fight and has appeared in court along with his defence team. The case is likely to be decided upon by February in accordance with South Korean judicial procedures. But whatever the result, this latest appeal is unlikely to be the end of the saga, with the losing side likely to take the case to the Supreme Court which acts as the final court of appeal in South Korea.
Lee’s presence marked his first public appearance since the August ruling. He did not speak during the early proceedings other than giving his birth date and address.
Lee was found guilty of approving donations to Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, in return for securing government support for the contentious merger of two Samsung affiliates that would strengthen his control over the group. Since his arrest in February, Lee has insisted the payments were made to Samsung without his knowledge, and with no expectation of favours from the Park administration. In total Lee was found guilty of sanctioning £30 million in bribes to four entities controlled by Choi.
Lee’s defence strongly challenges the court’s original ruling, claiming that Lee’s actions ‘implied’ solicitation for help from Park by providing financial support for the former president’s close friend and confidante Choi Soon-sil. However, the prosecution is equally unhappy with the original sentencing after campaigning for a much lengthier sentence. As a result it has lodged a cross-appeal against a number of charges that Lee was found innocent on.