[THE INVESTOR] On Dec.27, the prosecution upheld its original 12-year sentence for Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong on appeal after a lower court sentenced him to five years for bribing former President Park Geun-hye.
The Seoul Supreme Court is expected to give its final ruling in February. The following is Lee's full statement. - Editor
Your honor, I sincerely thank all those who are taking part in this trial.
I will start by saying I am the biggest debtor when it comes to Korea. I had the fortune of being born in a good family, and grew up in a privileged environment, receiving exceptional education.
Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
Prosecutors keep 12-year prison term demand for Samsung heir
I also enjoyed the privilege of working at a top-notch global company like Samsung, alongside talented and dedicated people. For these opportunities, I have constantly pondered on how I can give back to society.
Over the past 10 months, after meeting people I have never met before and hearing their stories, I have learned that I actually had more benefits than I thought.
Your honor, if I may, I will now tell you my dreams as a corporate leader.
I wanted to be recognized for my abilities, just like my father Lee Kun-hee and my grandfather Lee Byung-chull, and dedicate myself to the betterment of our country and share whatever privileges I enjoyed.
Granted, I was born as the third generation in a conglomerate family, but I hoped to add value to Samsung and make it stronger with my efforts and abilities. I really wanted to be recognized as the leader of a top-tier global company.
I am aware all this is up to me, and me only. I simply have to do better.
This also means it’s not something that a president can help achieve. Even in my wildest dreams, I never thought to enlist the support of the president to become recognized as a successful corporate leader. In this regard, I feel wronged (about the bribery accusations), so if I may, I ask the judge to take in consideration my beliefs.
I sought to be recognized as a true leader in society and to my fellow employees. I wanted to be credited for my abilities, for who I am, and as someone who is as capable and dedicated as my father and grandfather. Also, unlike my father, I am an only son, and unlike the offspring of other conglomerates, I never had to compete to succeed the company.
My beliefs or thoughts on this matter have never wavered, even after my father fell ill. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I was confident of achieving my dreams.
Given all this, why would I try to bribe anyone? I have never in my life considered getting assistance from anyone, and I never did.
I had much on my mind as I prepared this final statement. And as I looked back on the past, it felt like everything had become irreparably messed up.
And I am so sorry about it all. I feel quite lost when I think about how I can recover the public’s trust.
I don’t know where to begin, and I have lost many nights’ sleep over how I can solve this mess, and whether there is a solution to it at all.
But one thing is certain.
Your honor, it’s certain that everything is my fault. Everything began from my meeting with the president. It wasn’t something I had volunteered to, but it happened, and that was my fault.
I take full legal and moral responsibility.
And I also ask mercy for the other defendants involved in this case. Please let the punishment fall on myself only. Things can be resolved only once I begin to take responsibility. The people here only did what they had to do for the company. I am not certain if I am allowed to ask such things while I am on trial, but I sincerely hope and wish for your mercy for Choi Gee-sung and Chang Choong-gi.
If legally possible, please let them go, and punish me instead. I will take full responsibility.