Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong walked free from jail on Monday afternoon after an appellate court reduced his five-year jail sentence to two years and six months, suspended for four years.
In August, a lower court sentenced Lee to five years for giving 8.8 billion won (€6.5 million) in bribes to Park, who quit in March after her impeachment, and her confidante, Choi Soon-sil.
A lower court convicted Lee of bribing Park for help in strengthening his control of Samsung Electronics, one of the largest conglomerate in the country, and charged him for embezzlement and other charges.
Lee, who was arrested in February previous year, is the only son of the ailing Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee. It also found him not guilty of hiding assets overseas. The jailed ex-president is now facing multiple criminal charges.
In a hearing monday, a South Korean appeals court cut Lee's original sentence in half, to two-and-a-half years.
Lee has served as the de facto head of Samsung since his father, the company chair, was incapacitated by a heart attack in 2014.
Even so, the suspended sentence does not mean Lee is now no longer guilty.
The chief justice of the Supreme Court was newly appointed by President Moon Jae-in, who took office in May a year ago, but many of high posts in the judicial body were named under the previous government. "I will take care of my behaviour more meticulously and make my best efforts". "And it has been a really precious time for a year reflecting on myself", Lee told reporters at a detention centre. Lee Kun-hee, Samsung Group chairman and Jay Y.'s father, was convicted twice: once for tax evasion in 2008 and for bribery in 1996.
Another legal duel is likely. Lee has not responded to the verdict. Months later, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak pardoned Lee so he could remain on the International Olympic Committee. She is standing trial on charges of bribery, abuse of power, and coercion. "It is questionable how the law can be so generous toward chaebol owners while so strict toward workers and ordinary people".
"I don't think it matters who the president is, the judicial system has its own logic and I think the system is very flawed", said Mike Breen, Seoul-based author of 'The Koreans".
It is unclear how big of a role he will now play in Samsung's future.
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Prosecutors were expected to appeal the case to the Supreme Court as well.