A Seoul court gave jail terms to Samsung executives for destroying evidence in an investigation of alleged accounting fraud at Samsung BioLogics. However, the ruling had nothing to do with whether they were guilty or not of the alleged accounting fraud, the court noted.
The Seoul Central District Court on Monday said all of the eight Samsung executives and officials were guilty of plotting together to get rid of the evidence.
The court sentenced two years in jail to Samsung Electronics vice president surnamed Lee, one and a half years to two other Samsung Electronics vice presidents surnamed Kim and Park, respectively, at the task force for business support, and one and a half years with a hold of execution for three years to executive directors Baek and Seo who were also at the task force.
A Samsung Bioepis executive director surnamed Yang received one and a half years with a stay of execution for three years, a manager, one year with a stay of execution for two years. A Samsung BioLogics official surnamed Ahn got eight months with a hold of execution for two years.
The five defendants who got a hold of execution were ordered to provide 80 hours of social service.
The court found that the accused could predict criminal investigations into BioLogics’ accounting case at the time of destroying evidence. Suspicions about alleged accounting fraud were raised due to the merger of Cheil Industries with Samsung C&T and the listing of Samsung BioLogics. The Financial Supervisory Service has been investigating the case since 2017, and it was possible to predict the prosecution’s investigations through the FSS’ prior notice, issued on May 1, 2018, that it would probe the alleged window dressing, the court said.
However, the court deleted a part of the complaint, related to “Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong’s succession work,” saying it was irrelevant to the criminal case of evidence destruction.
“Their acts such as the destruction of evidence impeded the judicial function of the state, so they were guilty of evidence destruction regardless of whether or not Samsung BioLogics was guilty of accounting fraud,” the court said.
The court did not accept the accused's allegation that the complaint did not specify the evidence for the destruction of evidence.
“Samsung BioLogics and Samsung Bioepis destroyed a significant amount of data permanently. Because there are so many files, it is impossible to specify every evidence,” the court said. The Samsung executives’ criminal acts of systematically concealing such an enormous amount of evidence were vicious, it went on to say. “The method of their acts was beyond the public’s imagination and gave a tremendous shock to society,” the court added.
Korean people expect Samsung to be the world’s best company, but if its growth were based on unlawfulness, it would not be applauded, the court said. “If you had listened to employees who said an ordinary multinational company would have left the evidence intact when you ordered them to delete data, this kind of criminal act would not have occurred,” it noted.
However, the court clarified that the sentence had nothing to do with the suspicion of the alleged accounting fraud at Samsung BioLogics.
“The sentencing is only about the destruction of evidence and participating in the act in the context of the scheduled commencement of the criminal case of another person. Please note that the court has not made conclusions on the alleged accounting fraud,” the court emphasized.
<© Korea Biomedical Review, All rights reserved.>