South Korean court has sentenced Lee Jae-yong, the acting vice-chairman of Samsung, to five years in prison. If convicted this would represent the longest prison sentence for any South Korean executive.

Lee was jailed in February 2017 for crimes including offering bribes worth $7.9 million to close associates of the then-president Park Geun-hye. These were used in return for government support in strengthening Lee’s control of the Samsung group. 

The scandal has also seen four Samsung executives sentenced with up to four years in prison for their involvement in bribery and the embezzlement of corporate funds. The former president Park is also facing charges of corruption in a separate trail and was removed from office in March 2017 after her impeachment.    

Lee denies the charges against him and is expected to appeal the ruling, meaning that the trial will likely continue on into next year. However, the trial has highlighted the collusive ties within South Korea between large family-controlled corporations – or chaebol – and politicians.

Samsung itself is also facing repercussions from the trial, which has damaged its hard-earned reputation and resulted in the loss of Lee’s strategic leadership internally. This comes just as Samsung releases the Galaxy Note 8 and raises questions over its long-term future.   

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