S. Korean prosecutors seek 12-year jail term for Samsung heir on bribery raps

SEOUL, Aug. 7 -- South Korean prosecutors on Monday sought 12 years in prison for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, an heir apparent of Samsung Group, the country's biggest family-run conglomerate, on bribery charges.

Special prosecutors, who had investigated the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye, said in the final court hearing of the Samsung heir that the case was a "typical corruption offense" based on cozy ties between politicians and businessmen, which severely damages the constitutional value.

The team of Park Young-soo, who was named independent counsel in November last year for the corruption case, demanded 12 years of imprisonment for Vice Chairman Lee, while asking 7 to 10 years in jail for four other former Samsung executives.

The undertrials had continued false statement and excuse during the past court hearings that lasted for over five months, according to the special prosecutors.

Lee, the third-generation Samsung heir, was brought into custody on Feb. 17 and was indicted 11 days later on five charges of bribery, embezzlement, perjury, hiding assets overseas and concealing the proceeds of criminal acts.

The princeling of South Korea's richest family was charged with paying, or promising to pay, about 43.3 billion won (USD38.4 million) in bribes to ousted President Park Geun-hye and her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil, who was at the center of the influence-peddling scandal.

The payment was suspected of being made in exchange for political favors in the controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates seen as crucial to the father-to-son power transfer of the Samsung family.

The merger between Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T was made possible as the national pension fund, which is in charge of retirement savings for nearly half of the 50 million population, supported the 2015 merger. The National Pension Service (NPS) was then-biggest shareholder of one of the two Samsung units.

The merger was extremely crucial to the third-generation Samsung chief to inherit the management control from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been hospitalized in 2014 for heart attack.

Samsung was the biggest donor to two nonprofit foundations, which Choi allegedly controlled for personal gains. As the impeached Park was branded as an accomplice to Choi, bribing Choi would be equivalent to bribing Park.

 Samsung also signed a contract of millions of U.S. dollars with a German company owned by Choi and her daughter to finance the daughter's equestrian training in the European country.

The Samsung vice chairman was also accused of lying under oath during a December parliamentary hearing over the presidential scandal. (Xinhua)