Samsung heir to be released early from jail after corruption sentence

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Lee Jae-yong. [Photo/IC]
Lee Jae-yong. [Photo/IC]

Lee Jae Yong, the de facto head of Samsung’s corporate empire, is to be released from prison early, seven months after being jailed for corruption, South Korean Justice Minister Park Beom Kye said on Monday.

Lee is due to be released on Friday, along with more than 800 other prisoners, to mark Liberation Day, which falls on Sunday, the minister said.

The move reduces Lee’s two-and-a-half year sentence by nearly a year.

However he will not be able to resume his post immediately, as he has not been pardoned, but remains subject to a five-year restriction against working for companies directly linked to criminal offences, according to local media reports.

There is speculation in South Korea that the Justice Ministry might grant him an exemption at some point.

Park said the decision to grant Lee early parole was made in consideration of the country’s economic situation.

Most people responding to a poll carried out in July spoke out in favour of his parole, although many civil organizations opposed the move.

The case dates back to a corruption scandal involving former South Korean president Park Guen Hye.

According to the verdict, Samsung provided funding to political interests of a Park confidante in exchange for political support for a merger of Samsung subsidiaries, which prosecutors say would have tightened the Lee family’s control of the company.

Prosecutors say the bribes amounted to about 30 billion won (27.1 million dollars).

The charge first came to light in 2016, leading to Lee’s arrest. At the time, Lee was sentenced to five years in prison, but was released after a year when his sentence was reduced to probation. However, the charges were later revived, leading to his current detention.

South Korea’s Liberation Day marks the end of Japanese colonial rule, which ran from 1910 to 1945. Leaders often grant amnesties or pardons on this date.

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