Samsung heir Lee appears in court for corruption retrial

Legal Review

Billionaire Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong appeared in court Friday for a retrial on corruption allegations linked to a 2016 scandal that spurred massive street protests and sent South Korea's then-president to prison. 

"I feel deeply sorry for worrying many people," Lee said while facing a barrage of camera clicks before walking into the Seoul High Court with his lawyers. He didn't answer questions about the prospects of a jail term or how that would affect Samsung's business. Some protesters shouted "Arrest Lee Jae-yong!"

The Supreme Court in August ordered the retrial after concluding the amount of bribes Lee was accused of providing to ex-President Park Geun-hye and her confidante had been underestimated in a previous ruling that freed the Samsung Electronics vice chairman from jail on a suspended sentence.

While Lee apparently faces an increased possibility of serving jail time in the retrial, it's unclear what that would mean for Samsung, the world's largest manufacturer of computer chips, smartphones and TVs.

Some experts say a jailed Lee would hurt Samsung's decision-making process at a critical time as the company grapples with instability in the semiconductor market and ramifications from the trade war between the United States and China.

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