Prosecutor’s appeal begins for Samsung chief Lee in 2015 merger case

Prosecutor’s appeal begins for Samsung chief Lee in 2015 merger case
Prosecutor’s appeal begins for Samsung chief Lee in 2015 merger case

A South Korean high court on Monday began hearing the prosecution’s appeal of a lower court’s decision to exonerate Samsung Electronics Chairman Jay Y. Lee from all charges in a case related to the merger of Samsung companies in 2015.

Prosecutors are appealing a February ruling that found Mr. Lee not guilty on all counts, including accounting fraud and stock manipulation.

Prosecutors had requested a five-year prison sentence. Mr. Lee has denied wrongdoing, saying he and other executives acted in the belief that the merger would benefit shareholders.

Mr. Lee was not required to attend Monday’s pretrial hearing at the Seoul High Court. The purpose of the preparatory hearings is to establish future schedules.

Shim Gi-ho, one of the prosecutors, said the prosecution found the lower court’s decision “difficult to accept” and proposed calling 11 witnesses to the stand in the appeal.

Lawyers for Lee and other defendants opposed the proposal, saying the witnesses were neither independent of the case nor likely to reveal new facts.

Baik Kang-jin, the presiding judge, said the prosecution should present sufficient reasons for him to grant the request to call new witnesses.

The judge set the next preparatory hearing for July 22.

Samsung Electronics declined to comment on the call.

Lee, 55, and other former executives were accused of engineering a merger between two Samsung subsidiaries – Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries – in a way that failed to take into account the interests of minority shareholders.

The Seoul Central District Court acquitted Lee and 13 other defendants of all charges, saying the merger decision was made by the boards of directors of the two companies after review.

On Sunday, Lee met with Chinese Premier Li Qiang and other senior Chinese government officials on the sidelines of a trilateral summit between South Korea, China and Japan in Seoul. At the meeting, Mr. Li told Mr. Lee that China welcomed new investments from Samsung, Chinese state media reported. (Reporting by Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Ed Davies and Mark Potter)

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