Samsung heir’s apology could be the first step of his get-out-of-jail-free card


One thing that Jay Y. Lee is better at doing than his father Lee Kun-hee is to apologize in public. The May 6th apology was the second time he appeared in front of cameras for the sake of apology only since the 2015 MERS outbreak.

While the media was highlighting his promise not to hand over the group’s control to his children, what he actually said has little value in my opinion.

Because he was merely parroting what the compliance committee asked two months ago.

Doing exactly what he was told to do may feel humiliating to the crown prince of the Korean industrial empire but this might be his only get-out-of-jail-free card.

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The key lies in the birth of the compliance committee. Established in haste earlier this year, it was conceived by the judge’s suggestion during a court hearing last October.

Whereas Jeong Jun-young the presiding judge said that his suggestion has nothing to do with the trial at the time, three months later he flip-flopped as Samsung establishes the compliance committee.

Now the court says that it may take into account how effective the committee has been in determining Lee’s punishment.

As the Supreme Court deems the amount of the bribe Lee offered to Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil much bigger than the previous courts, Lee would be sentenced to no less than five years in jail in a normal circumstance.

Lee in 2015, to apologize Samsung hospital’s handling of the MERS outbreak

The best scenario for Lee by now is to get a suspended sentence. But with the five-year jail term, he could hardly get the suspension.

Because the South Korean criminal law forbids a suspension for a prison sentence for more than three years.

So what does the court need to hand down a jail term shorter than standard to Lee? Though it may sound a bit conspiracy theorist, this seems to be the best explanation for all the sudden nature of the compliance committee.

There’s already a case in which the existence of a compliance system affected a prison sentence of a jaebol head.

And it was carried out by the same bench that is holding the trial on Lee.

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