Samsung's acting chief Lee Jae-yong, the man directing Samsung in the absence of his ill father Lee Kun-hee, has been found guilty of bribery, perjury, embezzlement, and other charges, in the conclusion of a six-month trial.
Lee was accused of bribery in a scandal which also saw the impeachment of Park Geun-hye, the former president of South Korea. "The entire guilty verdict is unacceptable", he said. The verdict brings a sentence of five years in prison.
"Nobody knows exactly how much right now, but it must have been in the millions of dollars".
Driven by their belief of Park's innocence over a scandal that brought her down, many protesters, mostly older women and men, turned out for Lee, whose conviction, they believe, would nearly certainly mean a guilty verdict for Park in her trial.
The firms have long had murky connections with political authorities in South Korea, and past trials of their leaders have often ended with light or suspended sentences, with courts citing their contributions to the economy.
Samsung chairman Jay Y Lee has been sentenced to five years in jail for his part in a bribery and cronyism scandal that rocked South Korea. The top brass of the biggest conglomerate came under probe by an independent counsel in charge of investigating the wide range of corruptions from the way Park has shared power with secret confidante Choi Soon-sil.
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The conviction of Yong could lead to more trouble for Park as she faces a possible life sentence when a judgment or ruling in her case is given later this year.
But Lee's defence team said that the payments were signed off without his knowledge. Samsung had offered 43.3 billion won ($38.3 million) in donations to entities controlled by Choi and in the form of sports sponsorship to Choi's daughter for her equestrian training.
A spokesman for new South Korean president Moon Jae-in said that he hoped that Lee's case would be "an opportunity to eradicate the longstanding cozy relations between politics and business, which have been an obstacle to further advancing our society".
Two other Samsung executives, Choi Gee-sung and Jang Choong-ki, were also convicted in the same trial and sentenced to four years in prison.