Lee Jae-yong: Heir to Samsung business empire convicted of drug charges

Samsung’s embattled heir Lee Jae-yong has been convicted and fined for using the sedative propofol.

Under South Korean law, recipients as well as administrators of a controlled drug can be prosecuted. The drug is commonly used to sedate patients but is reported to be used recreationally as well.

While the drug is less likely to be misused, fines are more common than jail terms.

Lee, 53, has been fined £43,000 after prosecutors said in the trial that he had used the drug multiple times between 2015 and 2020.

While prosecutors claimed that he had used the drug under the pretext of skin treatment, Lee’s lawyers said that he had used the drugs to deal with the psychological stress of his legal battles and father’s illness, BBC reported.

Lee, who pleaded guilty to the charges, was released on parole only in August where he served for over 18 months on charges of embezzling millions of dollars from corporate funds in order to bribe South Korea’s previous president, Park Geun-hye.

The case had triggered protests in South Korea and led to Park’s ouster and impeachment.

Lee was released after business leaders and key members of the Moon Jae-in government advocated for his freedom citing the challenges that the nation faces in the semi-conductor industry.

The company has since invested £150bn in biopharmaceutical and chips, reported BBC.

Mr Moon’s office, however, distanced itself from Lee’s early release in August, saying that parole is decided by the Justice Ministry.

Lee is the third-generation leader of the Samsung conglomerate, which was founded by his grandfather. He serves as the vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, one of the world’s biggest computer chip and smartphone makers.

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