Putting an end to an almost four years of legal wrangling,Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong has decided not to appeal last week's court ruling over his role in the bribery scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye.
His lawyer said on Monday, the deadline for an appeal, that his client respects the ruling and will not take further legal action.
With the prosecutors also deciding not to appeal, the verdict by Seoul High Court has now been finalized, sentencing Lee to two and a half years in prison.
The decision sends Lee back to prison, but as he has already served almost a year of his sentence, he will be released in July 2022,unless he's granted a pardon or commutation.
For many experts, Lee's decision was no surprise as the possible appeal wouldn't have given any practical benefit to Lee.
"The Supreme Court had found him guilty already, though there was some issue regarding the exact amount of bribery. And given that the Supreme Court only makes adjustments to sentences that exceed ten years, Lee's case doesn't apply as he has only been sentenced for two and a half years. So even if they had appealed again, there was zero possibility that the ruling would be changed."
But Lee's legal troubles aren't over,further increasing the leadership risk for the Samsung Group.
He is still involved in another related case of alleged financial fraud regarding the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries.
With the leadership vacancy, Samsung Electronics is expected to operate under "emergency mode", with Lee making business decisions from behind bars.
However, the decision comes at a critical time, causing a setback to the group's huge investment plans.
Recently, industry sources have been reporting that Samsung is considering building a 10 billion U.S. dollar chipmaking plant in Texas.
Lee's absence means that such large investments or strategic long term moves could be stalled or delayed, adding uncertainty to the group's governance.
Kim Sung-min, Arirang News