Ex-Samsung Boss Convicted in Tax Case

But S. Korean court hands Lee Kun-hee suspended sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 16, 2008 6:20 AM CDT
Ex-Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, center, is helped by his secretary after his trial, Thursday. Prosecutors asked a South Korean court to sentence Lee to seven years in prison for tax evasion.   (Lee Jin-man)

(Newser) – A South Korean court convicted former Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee of tax evasion today, but handed the country's iconic business figure a 3-year suspended sentence, leaving him free from prison, reports the AP. The Seoul court found Lee, who resigned in April when the charges were brought, guilty of not paying about $46 million in taxes and fined him $109 million.

The court stopped short of sending Lee to prison, despite pleas from prosecutors, on the grounds that he did not actively seek to evade taxes, but merely kept the assets in question after inheriting them under borrowed names from his late father, Samsung's founder. Prosecutors sought a 7-year sentence and $347 million in fines against Lee. South Korean judges tend to be lenient in high-profile corporate cases, fearing the effects sending business leaders to prison would have on the economy.