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Business community concerned of negative impact caused by Samsung heir's prison sentence Updated: 2021-01-20 04:11:56 KST

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong is back in prison less than three years after being released on a suspended sentence following a bribery scandal involving former South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
In the retrial on Monday, Seoul High Court said slashing his previous sentence was "inappropriate", and sentenced Lee to two and a half years in prison.
Since Lee has already served one year in prison, this means he has to spend 18 months more behind bars.
The business community is concerned that Lee's absence could have a negative impact on the domestic economy with South Korea hugely dependent on Samsung and its affiliates.
Lee's jail term is expected to temporarily prevent him from making large-scale investment decisions which only he can make, especially in highly competitive sectors like artificial intelligence and 6G communication.
Samsung Electronics is expected to operate under "emergency mode", with Lee making business decisions behind bars.
Many experts are already discussing whether Lee could be granted early parole.

"The law states that those who serve at least one-third of their prison time qualify for parole. But in reality, those who qualify have served at least 70 percent, and only those that served more than 90 percent actually walk out early. With a short prison term of two and a half years, Lee's more likely to serve it in full."

One lawyer, on the other hand, notes that Lee may walk out early if former President Park is granted a special pardon.

"Lee is facing another trial related to Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, so it's too early to discuss parole. But as Lee was somewhat under Park's abuse of power in passive ways, if Park is pardoned, it's very likely Lee will be too."

Samsung has not commented on Monday's ruling, which will come as a huge blow on top of existing business uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S.-China trade spat.
Kim Jae-hee, Arirang News.
Reporter : jhee@arirang.com
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