A court in South Korea has sentenced 49-year-old Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong to five years in prison for corruption.
Lee — who denied all charges — was convicted regarding his role in a bribery scandal involving Park Geun-hye, the former president of South Korea. Prosecutors were seeking a 12-year maximum sentence.
Lee was arrested at the start of this year, and has been in prison since February.
He was accused of making donations worth $36 million to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the former president in exchange for political favors. These included gaining support from a national pension fund in the 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates. The arrangement was crucial for allowing Kun-hee to inherit overall management control of the Samsung Group.
Lee’s defense team claimed that these payments were signed off without their client’s knowledge. Lee previously admitted that Samsung also gave money and a horse to aid with the equestrian career of Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, although he denied this was politically motivated.
Lee’s lawyer says that they will appeal the court’s decision and are, “confident the ruling will be overturned.” Two other Samsung executives were also convicted in the same trial and will serve four year sentences. Former Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin and executive vice-president Hwang Sung-soo were given suspended sentences.