2021-10-12 10:38:47 Samsung chief Jay Y Lee pleads guilty to use of illegal substance | Business and Economy News
Samsung chief Jay Y Lee pleads guilty to use of illegal substance | Business and Economy News
Under South Korean law, the recipient of an illegally obtained controlled substance is subject to prosecution.
Jay Y Lee, the CEO of Samsung conglomerate, has pleaded guilty in court to a charge of unlawful use of a controlled substance, as his legal woes continue to haunt him even after his release on parole in August following a bribery conviction.
Lee’s announcement had heightened market expectations of a flurry of major decisions at crown jewel Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and its affiliates, including the location of a $17 billion chip factory planned in the United States.
However, Lee’s legal troubles continued on Tuesday at the Seoul Central District Court, where he stated in a brief first hearing that he received propofol – a sedative used in anaesthesia – 41 times between 2015 and 2020.
Prosecutors claimed that the use was concealed as skin treatment or was unrelated to a legitimate treatment.
“This started as a treatment matter, but I am deeply sorry,” Lee said. “I will… make certain that this does not happen again,” Lee said to the small court of about 15 people.
He stated that he had not used the drug since his release in August.
Lee sought treatment because of psychological stress caused by his father’s hospitalization in 2014, which worsened with the subsequent corruption scandal and trial that led to his January conviction, according to his lawyer.
Prosecutors are requesting a fine of 70 million won ($58,327) plus a fee of 17 million won ($14,212.4). The decision will be made on October 26.
Prosecution is an option.
Under South Korean law, the recipient of a controlled substance deemed to have been administered illegally, as well as those who administered the drug, are both prosecutable.
Staff at the clinic where Lee was given the sedative, who are being tried separately, have denied any wrongdoing.
Prosecutors were first made aware of the situation in 2020, but an independent panel reviewing prosecution probes advised them to discontinue their investigation in March 2021. They sought a fine until June, when another police report of sedative use prompted the court to order a hearing.
Because propofol is less likely to be abused than many other controlled substances, many similar cases of illegal use have resulted in fines rather than prison sentences.
Lee was convicted of bribery and embezzlement in January and sentenced to 30 months in prison, including a year served prior to his sentencing. He was released on parole in August, with the presidential office urging public understanding and expressing hope that he will assist the country in producing “semiconductors and vaccines.”
Following his release, Samsung announced that it would invest 240 trillion won ($240.6 billion) in fields such as chips and biopharmaceuticals over the next three years. Lee, for his part, has kept a low profile.
Lee is on trial for stock-price manipulation and accounting fraud in connection with the $8 billion merger of two Samsung companies in 2015. Hearings are held on a weekly basis.