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Samsung chief gets 5-year prison term for corruption

Photo courtesy Jay Y. Lee

By Sherisse Pham

    (CNN Money) -- A South Korean court has found Lee Jae-yong, the de facto chief of the sprawling Samsung business empire, guilty of bribery and other corruption charges.

Lee, the billionaire son of Samsung's ailing chairman, was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday, well short of the 12-year prison sentence prosecutors had sought.

The criminal conviction is a blow for Samsung, the world's largest smartphone maker and South Korea's biggest family conglomerate.

The so-called "trial of the century" has gripped South Korea for months. It's part of a huge influence-peddling scandal that brought down the government of former President Park Geun-Hye. Park is also on trial.

Wearing a navy suit and holding a manila envelope, Lee remained seated and silent as the judge read out the verdict.

He was found guilty of bribing Park in exchange for government support for a merger that helped him tighten control over Samsung. The 49-year-old executive, who is also known as Jay Y. Lee, has been the de facto leader of Samsung since his ailing father was left incapacitated by a 2014 heart attack.

The court also found Lee guilty of perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

During the trial, prosecutors presented Lee as a savvy tycoon who knew exactly what he was doing when Samsung paid tens of millions of dollars to entities linked to a confidante of Park. Lee denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers are expected to appeal the verdict.

Samsung Electronics' shares closed down 1.1% in Seoul following the verdict.

Developing story -- more to come.

-- Paula Hancocks, Lauren Suk, Taehoon Lee and Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.

The-CNN-Wire
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