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Following a corruption scandal that led to the removal of the former president Park Geun-hye, a lower court jailed Lee for two and a half years.

Samsung's de facto leader was arrested on February 17, 2017, over several accusations including giving a $6.38-million bribe for the equestrian training of the daughter of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye's friend.

His sentencing confirmed what had always been suspected: links between the nation's most successful and renowned company and the country's government.

Lee Jae-yong, the third-generation head of Samsung and the country's most influential businessman, had appealed the sentence, imposed in July after he was found guilty of charges including bribery, embezzlement and perjury. Lee's lawyer, Lee In-jae, said the defense will appeal to the Supreme Court to try to overturn the convictions.

While Samsung's stellar performance during the year that Lee was gone was attributed to the company's unwavering systematic structure, in-house sources said Lee's return brings a broader significance. On July 16, 2008, The New York Times reported the Seoul Central District Court had found Lee guilty on charges of financial wrongdoing and tax evasion.

"If South Korean tradition holds, Jay Lee will get a pardon for his value to the economy", Cain said. But the upper court did not acknowledge that Lee had provided the illegal funds as an implicit solicitation for special favors nor acknowledge that Lee deliberately hid the assets. The heir to one of the largest corportate empires had been in detention since February 2017 on widespread corruption charges that ousted the country's former president past year. The court had also said that this isn't an example of a typical "cozy relationship between politics and business". At the start of proceedings, prosecutors sought a 12-year jail term for Lee.

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But in October, a wave of top Samsung Electronics executives stepped down, moves that may have been meant to put pressure on the system to help the company avoid a leadership vacuum.

"They even have a term for it here, called jail management".

Cover image: Samsung Electronics vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong meets dignitaries at an event in 2014.

Many South Koreans were expecting a tough stance from the appeals court and took to social media and online news portals to vent their anger at the ruling and the judge who issued the verdict.

"Samsung had no agenda for which it needed to make an explicit or implicit request to the former president", the court said.