[JURIST] The Seoul High Court Friday affirmed a suspended three-year prison sentence and fine for former Samsung [corporate website] Chairman and CEO Kun-Hee Lee [corporate profile; JURIST news archive], but cleared Lee of a conviction for breach of trust. According to the Korea Times, the High Court took Lee's poor health and contribution to the Korean economy into account when it vacated the breach of trust conviction [Korea Times report]. Lee was convicted of tax fraud and breach of trust earlier this year. The High Court ruling affirmed Lee's July sentencing [JURIST report] by the Seoul Central District Court, which held that Lee should not serve prison time because he did not actively seek to avoid taxes. That decision was criticized by many in a country where wealthy corporate leaders are often seen as above the law. In April, South Korean prosecutors charged Lee with breach of trust and tax evasion [JURIST report], but decided not to indict him based on accusations that Samsung maintained a $200 million slush fund to bribe prosecutors, judges and civil servants. Nine other Samsung executives were indicted on similar charges. Prosecutors questioned Lee [JURIST report] earlier that month. AFP has more.
Samsung, South Korea's largest corporation, has been at the center of numerous legal battles over the past few years. In May 2007, a South Korean appellate court upheld the conviction of two Samsung executives connected with illegal stock trading [JURIST reports]. In April 2007, another Samsung executive pleaded guilty [US DOJ press release; JURIST report] to US charges of conspiring to artificially inflate the cost of Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM), affecting the price of personal computers worldwide. In 2005, Samsung reached an agreement [JURIST report] with the US Department of Justice to plead guilty to charges that it conspired with other technology companies to fix prices on DRAM chips.