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South Korea jails executives for their role in Samsung Biologics fraud

Published on 10/12/19 at 11:28am

Three executives of Samsung Electronics have been sentenced to jail for their role in committing fraud at its biotech affiliate Samsung Biologics.

Prosecutors accused the executives of ordering their employees to destroy internal documents, including hiding nearly two dozen computers, computers servers, and notebooks under the floors of Samsung Biologics factories near Seoul.

It was alleged this fraud was committed to boost the values of Samsung Biologics’ parent Samsung C&T, to smooth the way for the 2015 deal which helped consolidate the control of Samsung’s leader Jay Y Lee. A financial watchdog complained that this deal saw the firm’s value inflated by $3.82 billion.

Judge Soh Byung-Seoul, who handed down the sentences, said: “The boldness of the defendants’ criminal acts was beyond the public’s imagination and stunned society. Most South Korean people want Samsung to become the world’s top-class company contributing to the country’s economy; however, if such growth is based on breaches and unlawfulness, it will not be applauded.”

This is just the latest scandal to engulf the company. Jay Y Lee was sentenced to five years in prison in August 2017 for bribing ex-President Park Geun-hye, who was herself sentenced to 24 years in prison for abuse of power and corruption in 2018. However, Lee’s sentence was reduced to a two and a half year suspended sentence.

In October 2019, Lee faced the start of a retrial of bribing the ex-President, but it is unlikely a fresh verdict will be given this year.

Conor Kavanagh

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