Samsung’s CEO gets convicted and fined for misusing anesthetics.


Samsung’s CEO gets convicted and fined for misusing anesthetics.

Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto chairman of South Korea’s enormous Samsung company, was found guilty on Tuesday of illegally using the anesthetic drug propofol, the latest legal snafu for the multibillionaire.

The Seoul Central District Court punished Lee, the vice-chairman of the world’s largest smartphone maker Samsung Electronics and the world’s 238th richest person, 70 million won ($60,000), according to a spokesman.

The amount amounts to about 0.0006% of his reported $10.2 billion fortune.

He was found guilty of taking the anaesthesia dozens of times at a plastic surgery clinic in Seoul over several years.

Propofol is a medicinal anesthetic that is also occasionally used recreationally, and it was blamed on an overdose of the substance for pop icon Michael Jackson’s death in 2009.

In South Korea, usage is considered a minor offense, and prosecutors initially recommended fining him 50 million won under a summary indictment, which avoids the need for a trial in less serious instances.

However, the prosecution was overruled by the court, and a trial was ordered.

According to the Yonhap news agency, judge Jang Young-chae remarked, “The quantity injected is exceedingly considerable, and the type of the crime committed is not light given the social responsibility the defendant bears.”

“However, he admitted to the injection and has never been convicted of a crime like this before.”

Lee was fined 70 million won and ordered to surrender 17 million won in assets, with the judge asking him to “practice exemplary behavior that would not shame your children.”

Lee entered the courts wearing a dark business suit and a facemask, remaining tight-lipped and avoiding questions from reporters.

He apologized to the court “for generating such bother and anxiety due to my personal matter” when his trial began earlier this month, but argued the injection was “for medical purposes.”

Samsung Electronics did not respond to AFP’s request for comment.

Though the cash punishment is minor for the 53-year-old, the propofol case has been a public relations disaster for Samsung and Lee, who has been embroiled in legal troubles for the past five years, including a huge corruption scandal.

He was freed early from a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for bribery, embezzlement, and other offenses in the graft case that brought down former South Korean President Park Geun-hye two months ago.

The early release was considered as the latest example of South Korea releasing business titans imprisoned for corruption or tax cheating based on economic grounds.


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