(Photo: Yonhap News)
Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong is heading back to prison after a court sentenced him to two and a half years over his involvement in a 2016 corruption scandal that ousted South Korea's former president.
In a much-anticipated retrial on Monday, the Seoul High Court found Lee guilty of bribing then-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil to win government support for a 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates that helped strengthen his control over the country's largest business group.
It wasn't immediately known whether he would appeal.
Prosecutors had sought a nine-year prison term for Lee, who helms Samsung in his capacity as vice president of Samsung Electronics, one of the world's leading makers of computer chips and smartphones.
The 52-year-old billionaire was sentenced in 2017 to five years in prison for offering 8.6 billion won in bribes to Park and Choi.
But he was freed the following year after the Seoul High Court overturned key convictions and reduced the amount of his bribes, cutting his term to two and a half years and suspending part of his sentence.
In 2019, the Supreme Court returned the case to the high court, ruling that the amount of Lee's bribes had been undervalued and should include the amount Samsung spent to purchase three racehorses used by Choi's equestrian daughter and fund a winter sports foundation run by Choi's niece.
Park and Choi are serving prison terms of 22 years and 18 years, respectively.
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