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South Korea appeals court frees Samsung heir

[JURIST] A South Korean appeals court on Monday suspended a two-and-a-half-year jail sentence for Jay Y Lee [Forbes profile], billionaire heir of Samsung Group.

In August the Seoul Central District Court [official website], found that Lee paid former president Park Geun-hye [BBC profile] in hopes of favors from Park. Lee was also convicted [JURIST report] of embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealment of criminal proceeds and perjury.

In a surprise decision [AP report], the appeals court softened the original ruling against Lee, rejecting most of the bribery and embezzlement charges, resulting in no jail time.

This is the most recent development in a governmental scandal that has grown to involve many top former officials and corporate executives. Park was dismissed in March 2017 after being impeached in a case that brought attention to corrupt ties between South Korea's chaebol's, executives of big conglomerates, and its political leaders.

Before the final hearing at the appeals court Lee paid back 8 billion won ($7.3 million) to Samsung Electronics, all of which the trial court had said Lee embezzled.

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