12-year jail for Samsung heir sought over bribery


South Korean prosecution demanded Monday that Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong be sentenced to 12 years in prison over his involvement in a large-scale corruption scandal around former President Park Geun-hye and her associate Choi Soon-sil, local media reported.

Jay Y. Lee has been in detention since February, on trial for charges ranging from embezzlement to perjury, in a scandal that gripped the country for months and led to the ouster of former president Park Geun-hye.

Park also is on trial for more than 18 charges. South Korea's lower court is expected to deliver a verdict by August 27th, when Lee's current detention period comes to an end.

The billionaire scion of South Korea's richest family told the court: "I have never asked anyone, including the president, for anything for the company or my personal gain".

The vice chairman has been the de facto head of Samsung Electronics since his father, Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalized after a heart attack in 2014.

Police investigators reportedly searched for documents relating to the allegations that Samsung Group paid a house interior firm from accounts created under borrowed names without issuing tax receipts from October 2008 to March 2015.

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Lee has denied all charges.

The prosecutor also accused Samsung officials of lying in their testimonies to protect Lee.

It is alleged he made a large donation in exchange for government support of a merger of two Samsung subsidiaries. Both Park and Choi have refused to testify at Lee's trial. But it eventually went through after the national pension fund - a major Samsung shareholder - approved it.

Lee allegedly offered $38m (£29m) in bribes to four entities controlled by Choi, to whom Park often turned for advice on policy, such as the security threat from North Korea.

Prosecutors called him the "ultimate beneficiary" of crimes that were committed in the scandal. They requested seven to 10-year terms for three other former Samsung executives.