Samsung chief indicted on charges related to 2015 merger

Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong has been charged with stock-price manipulation and other financial crimes

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong was indicted Tuesday on charges of stock price manipulation and other financial crimes.

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The 52-year-old billionaire's attorneys refuted South Korean prosecutors' claims -- which had also been filed against 10 other current and former Samsung executives -- and labeled them "one-sided."

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The lawyers asserted that a 2015 merger between two affiliates of the tech company was "normal business activity." The deal helped Lee to increase power over Samsung Electronics, where he serves as the vice-chairman.

In a statement, Lee's representation said there are no new charges worth arguing over.

“The prosecution, which is against the will of the people and disregards the reasonable judgment of the judiciary, is not only against the legal balance but also undermines the public’s trust in the prosecution,” the statement read.

In this June 8, 2020, file photo, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong arrives at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

This is not the first time Lee has had a run-in with the law. A court in the country's capital of Seoul had previously rejected the prosecutors’ request to arrest Lee.

Charges include breach of trust, stock price manipulation and auditing violations surrounding the 2015 merger between Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries.

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Lee was sentenced to five years in jail in 2017 after he offered 8.6 billion won -- $7 million -- in bribes to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and one of her confidantes while seeking support for the 2015 deal.

Park was ousted from her office in March 2017 and is serving a decades-long prison term for bribery, abuse of power and other corruption charges.

Lee, who took over the company for his father in 2014, was unexpectedly set free in February 2018 after the Seoul High Court reduced the length of his term and suspended his sentence.

However, the case was sent back to the High Court just months later, with the Supreme Court saying that the amount of bribes Lee was judged to have offered was undervalued.

While Lee could be sentenced to another jail term if convicted again, South Korean corporate leaders often receive lesser punishments.for corruption and other financial crimes.

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Lee has since promised to end heredity transfers of control of his company and promised the group would stop thwarting employee attempts to organize unions.

Although Lee has expressed remorse over causing public concern, he has not admitted to wrongdoing surrounding the charges against Park.