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Former Samsung chief handed suspended jail term

  • Story Highlights
  • Court says Lee Kun-hee forced Samsung SDS to sell bonds to family at low prices
  • The firm lost $18 million because of those illegal deals
  • The court suspends for five years the prison term for Lee, 67
  • Samsung accounts for about one-fifth of all South Korean exports
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(CNN) -- A South Korean court on Friday found the former chairman of the Samsung Group guilty of a breach of trust in illicit bond transactions and sentenced him to a suspended 3-year jail term and a fine of 110 billion Korean won ($89 million), South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

The Seoul High Court said Lee Kun-hee forced Samsung SDS, a system integration unit of the Samsung Group, to sell bonds to his son and daughters at significantly below-market prices, Yonhap said. Affiliate Samsung SDS lost $22.7 billion won ($18 million) because of those illegal deals.

The court suspended for five years the prison term for Lee, 67.

Last year, Lee was sentenced for tax evasion to three years in prison, but that sentence was also suspended, meaning that he did not spend time behind bars. He also was ordered to pay $89 million in fines.

He was found not guilty last year of the breach of trust charge. But the Supreme Court ordered the lower courts in May to review the not guilty verdict, according to Yonhap.

As South Korea's largest conglomerate, Samsung lists sales of nearly $160 billion and exports of $70 billion in 2008. The company accounts for about one-fifth of all South Korean exports.

Lee had served as Samsung chairman for 20 years and stepped down from the group's top management post in April 2008 after he was indicted.

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