Samsung Group head gets suspended jail term

A 2017 protest called for the punishment of Jay Y Lee and Park Gyeun-hye

The heir to Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, has been freed with a suspended sentence after spending a year in jail on charges of offering bribes to the disgraced former president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye.

His trial is expected to affect the ruling on the corruption trial of the disgraced former president, who's also been indicted and in jail since April a year ago following the Constitutional Court's ruling on her removal from office. The reason Lee's sentence was cut in half in the appeals court is due to the judges finding that Lee did not seek any help in return for the support.

He was cleared of the more serious charges of hiding assets overseas, a charge that carries a minimum five-year sentence, and the court found Samsung had sent the money overseas as kickbacks, not for the objective of concealing it. However, while the government has appointed several anti-chaebol figures to powerful positions in the administration, it can not - at least publicly - influence the judiciary.

Lee is expected to make public appearances in the coming days. Now he's been freed, thanks to a South Korean court of appeals. He is the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul.

In August 2017, Lee was convicted of bribery and embezzlement charges linked to a political -corporate scandal, which also involved the country's then president Park Geun-hye.

"Lee's biggest goal for now is to show what is the next step that Samsung Group will take, while continuing its shareholder-friendly actions", he added.

"The ruling could help Samsung recover its confidence and gain direction", said Bae Sang-kun, a senior official at the federation.

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Prosecutors had wanted Lee to serve a 12-year jail term. He will be on a four-year probation.

Samsung Group heir Jay Y Lee has been relieved from the jail sentence imposed on him in February.

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

The verdict comes a week after Samsung announced an operating profit of $50bn previous year, a steep increase from 2016's $27bn.

Many South Koreans were expecting a tough stance from the appeals court and took to social media and online news portals to vent their anger at the ruling and the judge who issued the verdict.

Moreover, the outlook may have become even more negative for the former president with the court blaming Park and Choi for "coercing Samsung executives". Another circus trial has concluded as most believed it would.

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