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Samsung chief found guilty but avoids jail

The former chairman of Samsung has received a suspended prison sentence after being found guilty of tax evasion at a court in Seoul, South Korea.

Lee Kun-hee (pictured), who resigned in April after 20 years at the head of the family business, was sentenced to three years in jail with a five-year suspension.

The second-generation family patriach was charged with hiding $4.5 billion in borrowed-name accounts, evading $112.8 million in taxes. He was asked to repay all the money he evaded in tax.

However, the judge dismissed more serious charges of breach of trust. Lee, who was clearly happy with the outcome, said: "I'm sorry for causing trouble to the people."

Judge Min Byung Hun, of the Seoul Central District Court, was more forthright. "His tax evasion infringes on the nation's taxing rights and undermines the public's trust in fair taxation. But he didn't seem to have bad intentions for short-term profit gains or internal stock trading," he said.

Local media reported that the verdict drew rounds of applause in the packed courtroom, but civic activists called it "shameful" as it reversed the country's efforts to increase transparency in family-controlled conglomerates and reform the top-down management structure.

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