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  26 Oct 2021, 12:08

Samsung boss convicted, fined for anaesthetic misuse

SEOUL, Oct 26, 2021 (BSS/AFP) - The de-facto leader of South Korea's

sprawling Samsung group Lee Jae-yong was convicted Tuesday of illegally using
the anaesthetic drug propofol, the latest legal travail to beset the multi-
billionaire.

  Lee -- the vice-chairman of the world's biggest smartphone maker Samsung
Electronics and according to Forbes the world's 238th richest person -- was
fined 70 million won ($60,000) by the Seoul Central District Court, a
spokesman said.

  The sum is around 0.0006 percent of his estimated $10.2 billion fortune.

  He was found guilty of having repeatedly taken the anaesthetic at a plastic
surgery clinic in Seoul dozens of times over several years.

  Propofol is normally a medical anaesthetic but is also sometimes used
recreationally, and an overdose of the drug was given as the cause of pop
star Michael Jackson's death in 2009.

  Usage is normally seen as a minor offence in South Korea and prosecutors
originally proposed fining him 50 million won under a summary indictment, a
procedure where less serious cases do not go to court.

  But the court overruled the prosecution and ordered a trial.

  "The quantity injected is very high and the nature of crime committed is
not light considering the social responsibility the defendant bears," judge
Jang Young-chae said according to Yonhap news agency.

  "But he has confessed to the injection and has never been convicted of this
crime before."

  He fined Lee 70 million won and ordered him to forfeit 17 million won in
assets, urging him to "adopt exemplary behaviour that your children will not
be embarrassed by".

  Wearing a dark business suit and a facemask, Lee remained tight-lipped as
he entered the courthouse, skipping questions from reporters.

  When his trial opened earlier this month, he apologised to the court "for
causing such trouble and concern due to my personal matter", but insisted the
injection was "for medical purposes".

  Samsung Electronics declined to comment to AFP.

  Though the financial penalty is insignificant for the 53-year-old, the
propofol case has been something of a public relations embarrassment for
Samsung and Lee, who has been mired in legal issues including a sprawling
corruption scandal, for five years.

  Two months ago, he was released early from a two and a half year prison
term for bribery, embezzlement and other offences in connection with the
graft case that brought down ex-South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

  The early release was seen as the latest example of South Korea freeing on
economic grounds business leaders imprisoned for corruption or tax evasion.

 

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