Lee, the billionaire son of Samsung’s ailing chairman, was sentenced to five years in prison yesterday, well short of the 12-year sentence prosecutors had sought.
The criminal conviction is a blow for Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker and South Korea’s biggest family-run conglomerate whose businesses are estimated to account for around 15% of the country’s entire economy.
The so-called “trial of the century” has gripped South Korea for months.
“The public is disappointed that this kind of large-scale crime caused by cozy relations between politics and business still happens – it’s not in the past but remains a reality,” Judge Kim Jin-dong said in court.
He also laid some of the blame on Park, saying the former president made “aggressive demands” of Samsung.