Prosecutors alleged Mr. Lee tried to bribe President Park Geun-hye in return for government backing for key Samsung business deals. Along with bribery, he was charged with embezzlement, hiding assets abroad, concealing criminal profits and perjury. The court found Mr. Lee guilty on all charges.
Samsung acknowledged paying about $38 million to entities linked to a close friend of the President, Choi Soon-sil. About half of that amount went to a German sports-consulting company that paid for equestrian training for Soon-sil's daughter. The court determined that $6.4 million of the payments Samsung made to equestrian training were bribery and the judge ruled that Lee Jae-yong embezzled $5.7 million for that bribe. In total, Samsung was found to have paid about $7.9 million for bribery.
In exchange for the bribes, Choi Soon-sil and President Park Geun-hye are said to have ensured government support for the merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015, which helped Lee Jae-yong consolidate his hold on Samsung Electronics and change Samsung's cross-shareholding structure which allowed Lee Jae-yong to avoid a steep inheritance-tax bill.
Lee denied all the charges and said as vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics he was rarely involved in decisions affecting the broader Samsung empire which spans dozens of companies. His lawyer, Song Wu-cheol, said he couldn't accept the verdict and would immediately appeal.
“I am confident that the appeals court will definitely find the defendants not guilty on all counts,” said Mr. Song.