Samsung Electronics executives who were put on trial for destroying evidence in connection with Samsung Biologics' alleged accounting fraud were sentenced to prison in the first trial.
The Seoul Central District Court on Dec. 9 sentenced Lee, vice president of Samsung Electronics' finance team, to two years in prison, while Kim and Park, both of whom are vice presidents of the Business Support TF, to one and a half years in prison.
Baek, a senior executive at Samsung Electronics' Business Support TF, and Seo, a senior executive at the Information Security Center, were sentenced to one and a half years in prison, suspended for three years, on charges of destroying evidence.
Ahn, the deputy chief of Samsung Biologics' security division, was sentenced to eight months in prison with a two-year suspension of execution.
"The evidence that can determine the gravity of criminal responsibility in a large company's accounting scandal has been destroyed, causing a setback in uncovering the real truth," the court said. "The large amount of evidence is organized, extensively destroyed and concealed at the group level."
“The law and the circumstances of the crime were carried out in a way that is hard for ordinary people to imagine," he said. "The intention to prevent negative public opinion against Samsung and unnecessary misunderstanding cannot be grounds for justifying the crime."
Lee and eight others have been accused of ordering or directly executing the concealment or manipulation of internal documents since May last year when the prosecution was expected to investigate Samsung's alleged accounting fraud.
Prosecutors found that Lee, who was involved in the entire succession process of Samsung Group, ordered the destruction of evidence and that the order was delivered to Samsung Electronics and its subsidiaries via Kim and Park, then executive vice presidents.
Prosecutors judged that those who received orders from Lee, Kim and Park carried out the destruction of evidence by hiding the company's public servers and computers on the floor of the factory and searching for words such as "JY," "VIP," "Future Strategy Office," "merger" and "equity purchase" from employees' laptops and mobile phones to delete related evidences.
In an earlier decision hearing held on Oct. 28, the prosecution asked Lee and eight other defendants to serve one to four years in prison. At the time, the prosecution stressed that digging into the bottoms of factories, telecommunications rooms and conference rooms to hide evidence is beyond imagination and that they should be sternly punished according to the rule of law.