Samsung Group remains silent over chief’s trial

SEOUL-- South Korea's top conglomerate Samsung Group on Monday remained silent over the independent counsel's decision to seek a 12-year jail term against its de facto leader Lee Jae-yong on the alleged link to a corruption scandal that led to the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.

The country's largest family-run conglomerate, along with its key affiliate Samsung Electronics Co., refrained from making any official statements on the announcement, with executives saying they will wait for the final ruling slated for later this month.

Industry watchers said the silence comes as any kind of response by Samsung could adversely impact the final ruling, in light of the gravity of the issue.

The 49-year-old vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the only son and heir to Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, has been behind bars since February on charges of providing or promising some 43.3 billion won (US$38 million) to Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil in return for the state pension's support of the merger of Samsung's two units in 2015.

The younger Lee has effectively run the company since his father was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack in 2014.

Industry watchers said the independent counsel's jail term exceeds forecasts. In 2007, an independent counsel sought a seven-year jail term and a fine of 350 billion against Lee's father on charges of setting up a slush fund.

Others said the independent counsel's decision is reasonable considering the allegation that he secretly sent 7.8 billion won abroad to Choi's company based in Germany, which is punishable by at least 10 years in jail under South Korean law.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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