Jay Y. Lee will spend the next five years in prison after a court convicted him of bribing his way to greater control of the Samsung empire his family founded.
The trial is part of a bigger corruption scandal that brought down South Korea's president. Prosecutors had sought 12 years in prison for the 49-year-old billionaire, whose lawyer said he would appeal. Any sentence of more than 3 years can't be suspended.
South Korea wants to break the ties between the wealthy and those in power. In the past, a long list of business leaders, including Lee's father, were convicted for corrupt behavior only to be let off easy. The younger Lee is unlikely to enjoy such leniency.
Lee was convicted of all five charges he faced, including allegations of embezzlement.
Samsung is South Korea's biggest conglomerate, comprised of about 60 units selling life insurance, cargo ships and clothes. The empire has a market capitalization of about $395 billion, and Samsung Electronics makes up most of that.
Along with Lee's sentencing, several former executives were convicted Friday. Former Samsung Corporate Strategy Office chief Choi Gee-sung and former President Chang Choong-ki were each sentenced to four years in prison, while two other executives got suspended prison terms.