Seoul Central District Court has acquitted Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong of all charges related to a controversial 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates.
This case stemmed from accusations that Lee manipulated stock prices and committed accounting fraud during the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, allegedly to solidify his control over the tech giant. Prosecutors sought a five-year jail term.
The court, however, ruled in Lee's favor, stating that the prosecution failed to provide sufficient evidence proving the merger was illegal or intended to influence succession within the company. Lee has consistently denied any wrongdoing, insisting that the merger was motivated by legitimate business objectives.
Previous Conviction and Pardon
This recent acquittal comes after Lee faced previous legal troubles. In 2017, he was convicted of bribing former President Park Geun-hye to secure government support for the merger. Subsequently, he was sentenced to prison but later released in 2021, with his sentence significantly reduced and ultimately pardoned by the current president.
The 2015 merger scandal involving Samsung's Lee Jae-yong sparked widespread public outrage and corruption investigations that exposed President Park Geun-hye's involvement. This resulted in her impeachment by parliament and subsequent removal from office, followed by a 20-year prison sentence.