Prosecution appeals court acquittal of Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong

Seoul, Feb 8 (IANS) Prosecutors on Thursday appealed a recent court acquittal of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong in a controversial Samsung affiliate merger case, sources said.

On Monday, the Seoul Central District Court delivered a not-guilty sentence for Lee, who was charged over alleged engagement in market irregularities over the course of the controversial merger of two Samsung affiliates, Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T Corp, in 2015.

In response, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office on Thursday filed an appeal against the ruling, claiming the merger was aimed at solidifying Lee’s managerial control of the firm at a lower cost, according to judicial sources.

The prosecution had demanded a five-year prison sentence for the chief of South Korea’s largest conglomerate, reports Yonhap news agency.

The merger was seen as crucial to Lee’s succession as the heir of the family-controlled firm, as his father, Lee Kun-hee, had suffered a heart attack the previous year.

Meanwhile, Jae-yong’s acquittal is expected to strengthen his leadership to overcome mounting challenges and accelerate decision-making within South Korea’s largest conglomerate.

The long-awaited acquittal marks the resolution of legal uncertainties that Lee has faced for nine years since he was involved in a nationwide power abuse scandal under the administration of former President Park Geun-hye, providing stability to Samsung.

This development is seen as crucial for Samsung in the face of geopolitical risks, such as the US-China conflict and the prolonged Russia-Ukraine war, along with a protracted economic slowdown, high inflation and interest rates.

Lee is expected to play a pivotal role in addressing challenges in the semiconductor and smartphone businesses amid heightened competition in the tech industry.

Last year, Samsung lost the top spot in semiconductor vendor revenue to Intel Corp. and came in second closely behind Apple in smartphone shipments.



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