A South Korean court has acquitted Samsung CEO Jay Y. Lee in a drawn-out case involving allegations of price manipulation and accounting fraud.
Public prosecutors demanded a five-year prison sentence and a fine of hundreds of thousands of euros against Lee.
The lawsuit revolved around a merger of two Samsung subsidiaries in 2015. According to prosecutors, small shareholders were duped in the merger, and the deal was intended to strengthen Lee’s grip on Samsung. Lee has always rejected the allegations and never intended to defraud small shareholders. The court in Seoul agreed with this on Monday.
The trial has been going on since 2017. In November, a year-long prison sentence was demanded for fifty-year-old billionaire Lee, the executive chairman of South Korea’s largest company. For example, the Samsung conglomerate is active in electronics, computer chips, and shipbuilding. The judgment can still be appealed.
In 2017, Lee was sentenced to thirty months in prison in connection with bribery of a confidant of former President Park Geun-hye. After eighteen months, he was released due to good behaviour, but the CEO was not allowed to resume his old position. However, in August 2022, current South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol pardoned him. This allowed him to rejoin the company’s board of directors.