SEOUL, South Korea – A South Korean court convicted former Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee today for evading taxes and fined him $109 million, but said his crimes did not justify a prison term.
While convicting Lee for tax evasion and securities law violations, the court acquitted Lee on charges of breach of trust that had stemmed from allegations of dubious financial transactions to transfer corporate control to his son.
The 66-year-old tycoon has personified Samsung Group, the nation’s largest conglomerate, which he had led for two decades as it grew into a global brand.
The probe against Lee and Samsung was prompted by allegations by a former company lawyer that Samsung created a large slush fund to bribe prosecutors, officials and other influential figures.
Prosecutors have said they found $4.5 billion of his personal assets under borrowed names and determined he evaded taxes worth $112 million.