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08 August 2017, 12:48 | Jenny Fowler
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Samsung Electronics' Vice Chairman Jay Lee may be facing up to 12 years in prison on charges that include bribing the former president, Reuters reports.
Lee, the de facto leader of one of Asia's largest conglomerates, has been in detention since February, on trial for charges ranging from embezzlement to perjury, in a scandal that led to the ouster of former president Park Geun-hye.
The court ruling is expected before August 27, when Lee's current period of detention ends.
Lee is officially Samsung's vice-president but has in effect run the company since his father, Lee Kun-hee, had a heart attack in 2014. His fate will be decided by three judges rather than a jury, and as is traditional in South Korean courts, the sentence will be decided ahead of the verdict.
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. Prosecutors allege the money was paid to a company in Germany to bankroll equestrian training for the daughter of a friend of then-President Park Geun-hye.
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Park also accused Samsung officials of lying in their testimonies to protect Lee.
"Even though Lee is the ultimate beneficiary, he has been pushing the blame on others [who have been] accused", Park, the prosecutor, told the court.
Prosecutors alleged the bribes were offered in exchange for government help with a merger that strengthened Lee's control over Samsung at a crucial time for organizing a smooth leadership transition after his father fell ill.
Samsung was the biggest donor to two nonprofit foundations, which Choi allegedly controlled for personal gains.
He also claimed to have had no role in wider decision-making at Samsung and "mostly listened to other executives".
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