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Page last updated at 05:42 GMT, Wednesday, 16 July 2008 06:42 UK

Samsung ex-boss guilty of fraud

Lee Kun-hee, July 2008
Lee was cleared of a more serious charge of breach of trust

The ex-chairman of South Korean firm Samsung, Lee Kun-hee, has been found guilty of tax evasion in Seoul and given a three-year suspended jail term.

Lee, 66, was cleared of a more serious charge of breach of trust.

The court in Seoul also fined Lee 110bn won ($109m). Prosecutors had sought a seven-year jail term and 350bn won ($347m) in fines.

The charges followed a three-month investigation into alleged corruption at South Korea's biggest conglomerate.

Lee, one of South Korea's richest men, had headed Samsung for two decades before his resignation from the chairmanship in April.

'Sorry'

The suspension of his three-year sentence for five years means he does not face an immediate jail term.

Judge Min Byung-hun told Seoul Central District Court that Lee's crime was "not serious enough to send him to prison".

Speaking after the verdict, Lee said he was "sorry for causing trouble to the people".

The corruption case has been keenly followed in South Korea, where Samsung remains one of the country's most powerful and respected organisations despite the charges against Lee.

Samsung is best-known for its electronics unit, but it is also one of the world's largest shipbuilders.

With a global workforce of 254,000, it enjoyed annual profits of more than $12.9bn (6.45bn) in 2006 and accounts for nearly a fifth of all South Korean exports.


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