Ex-Samsung boss upheld ‘not guilty’

SEOUL: South Korea's supreme court upheld lower court rulings which had cleared former Samsung group chairman Lee Kun-Hee of breach of trust charges.

Special prosecutors had alleged that Lee caused losses to his group by authorising the issue of cheap convertible bonds, in an attempt to transfer corporate control to his son and heir-apparent Jae-Yong in the mid-1990s.

But lower courts ruled there was no breach of trust by Lee senior, who led the nation's biggest business group for almost 20 years.

Lower courts, while clearing him of the more serious charge, had found him guilty of tax evasion and passed a suspended sentence.

The supreme court overruled a high court ruling which found two former Samsung executives guilty of breach of trust by helping sell the bonds. It sent the case back to the high court for another hearing.

Lee senior quit the group in April 2008 following an investigation by special prosecutors into claims by a former group lawyer of irregularities.

Samsung has 250,000 staff in 59 affiliates and accounted for more than 20 percent of the nation's exports in 2007.