Prosecutors seek 12-year jail for Samsung's Lee Jae-yong


Prosecutors in South Korea demanded a 12-year jail term for Jay Y. Lee, accusing the billionaire vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co. of bribing a presidential confidante to increase his control over the world's biggest maker of smartphones and memory chips.

Such dealings once helped fuel the country's rapid industrialization but now increasingly are being scrutinized as illegal and unfair.

"Even though Lee is the ultimate receiver of the gains (from this bribery case), he has been pushing the blame on others accused", prosecutor Park Young-soo told the court.

Mr Lee is facing charges over his role in a bribery scandal which led to the ousting of the ex-President Park Guen-hye. If convicted, Lee may be the first in his family to serve a prison term. Lee has been in detention since February on trial for charges ranging from embezzlement to perjury, and the court is expected to rule in his case later this month.

In return, he secured government backing for the merger of two Samsung units in 2015, a vital step for cementing his control over South Korea's biggest conglomerate founded by his grandfather, according to the prosecution.

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Park was removed from office in March and is being tried separately. Lee has denied any wrongdoing.

Park, who has been detained on charges of corruption and abuse of power, has denied seeking bribes for her friend. He has said he did not know of Choi or her daughter before the scandal grabbed national headlines and said the succession situation at Samsung was not discussed during three meetings he held with the former president.

Samsung's lawyers do not contest having donated a large sum of money to the entities controlled by Choi.

The prosecutors' recommendation ends a four-month-long trial into allegations against Samsung's 49-year-old vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong.

They said the restructuring would help to cement the leadership of Mr Lee, who was standing in as chairman for his ill father, Lee Kun-hee. Police officials raided the office that oversaw interior decorating of the elder Lee's private house in central Seoul.