As a part of a strategy to attain a minimum sentence, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong said in his trial on Nov. 22 that impeached president Park Geun-hye demanded the bribes the authorities are accusing Lee of offering.
Lee also asked CJ Group Chairman Sohn Kyung-shik to appear as a witness. In January this year, Sohn had said that at the time the bribes were handed over to Park, the key presidential aide at the time had called for CJ Vice Chairwoman Lee Mi-kyung to step down, saying it was the ‘president’s will.’
He also stressed that there was no quid pro quo to the bribes that the former president demanded, and that he nor Samsung had ever offered the bribes in the first place. Lee’s argument is that as a member of the corporate sector, it was difficult to say no to the president.
Earlier, Samsung had made it clear that its strategy would be to focus on the sentence, and not whether Lee was guilty or not. Ultimately, Lee’s legal team is looking to bring the sentence down to a suspended sentence.
A precedent would be Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, who received such a sentence after proving he had not actively sought to offer bribes to the impeached president.
In August, the Supreme Court of Kore ordered a retrial after concluding the amount of bribes Lee was accused of providing to ex-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil had been underestimated in a previous ruling that kept Lee out of jail on a suspended sentence.
Lee had been sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and Choi as a part of efforts to attain government support to solidify his control over the Samsung business empire.
Lee was freed in February 2018 after the Seoul High Court reduced his term to two-and-a-half years and suspended his sentence, overturning key convictions and shaving the bribe total by more than a half.
The next trial is set for Dec. 6.
The Elec is South Korea’s No.1 tech news platform.