While in jail, Lee may be unable to make significant decisions for Samsung at a crucial time when demand for its memory chips and other products is sky-high. Korea and Samsung, in particular, have attained more prominence of late because of rocky US/China relations.
In the trial’s final hearing, Lee made a lengthy apology and promised to make a “new Samsung” and “fix what the court has pointed out as the harms of chaebol [family-owned conglomerate],” he said. He also vowed not to pass power down to his children.
The sentence was based partly on the court’s evaluation of an independent compliance committee set up by Samsung to monitor wrongdoing by executives. Lee’s legal woes aren’t over yet, as he’s also on trial for alleged fraud and stock manipulation. He’s still expected to become chairman of Samsung once he goes free, following his father’s death, Lee Kun-hee, late last year.