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South Korean prosecutors seek 12-year prison term for Samsung chief

Prosecutors in South Korea have recommended a 12-year jail sentence for billionaire Samsung heir over his role in a national corruption scandal. He is accused of embezzlement and bribing ex-President Park Guen-hye.

At the final hearing in the trial of Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong on Monday, prosecutors recommended a 12-year jail term for his alleged role in a scandal that brought down the country's last president.

Former South Korean President Park Geun-hye

The corruption scandal also brought down former President Park Guen-hye

Prosecutors called him the "ultimate beneficiary" of crimes that were committed in the scandal.

The 49-year-old Samsung heir has been in detention since February and was indicted on charges that include bribery and embezzlement.

Along with four other executives, he is accused of offering $38 million (32.2 million euros) in bribes to a close friend of then-President Park Guen-hye.

The bribes were part of a move to win presidential favors and to secure government help in a merger that bolstered Lee's control over Samsung.

"The defendants were closely tied to power and sought personal gains," the prosecutors said.

The charges could entail at least a five-year prison sentence if Lee is convicted. The court is expected to rule on the case later this month.

 Read more: Head of retail powerhouse Lotte indicted in South Korea corruption scandal

Lee denies charges

Last week, Lee took the stand for the first time in his defense and denied all the charges. He has distanced himself from Samsung's strategy office, which oversaw the merger at the center of the scandal.

Watch video 01:16

Samsung heir arrested in corruption probe

He also claimed to have had no role in wider decision-making at Samsung and "mostly listened to other executives."

Lee has been at the helm of the Samsung group, a massive business empire that is also the world's largest smartphone maker, since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

The scandal sparked massive protests and culminated in the impeachment and dismissal of ex-president Park, who was tried separately.

rs/se (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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