South Korean prosecutors on Wednesday requested a nine-year prison term for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd Vice Chairman Jay Y Lee in the final hearing of a bribery case trial.
The case rocked the nation and ignited a backlash against its most powerful conglomerates, reports Bloomberg.
Special prosecutors proposed the sentence during the hearing at the Seoul High Court, which will make its ruling on the billionaire's fate on January 18 next year.
"There's no denying that it has made a lot of positive impact on our society," according to a transcript of closing arguments from prosecutors, referring to Samsung. "But just because there's been an economic contribution, there should be no hesitation in legal enforcement based on the rule of law."
The 52-year-old billionaire is fighting allegations of graft in a retrial of a case that started four years ago and led to his imprisonment and the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.
The outcome of the case could snarl succession at Samsung, just as Lee is expected to formally take the helm of the mobile and electronics giant after the death of his father in October.
The executive stands accused of making gifts to cement his control over the world's largest smartphone maker and smooth his ascension. Lee served a year in jail before his release in 2018 after an initial five-year prison term was halved and suspended by an appeals court.
But in August, the Supreme Court voided that decision, thrusting the executive back before a judge. Lee faced a tougher sentence this time -- a minimum of five years -- because the amount of alleged bribery acknowledged by the top court increased.
Yet experts viewed a decreasing chance of imprisonment as the trial drew to a close. Judges at the high court asked Samsung and Lee to impose measures to prevent illegal activity and improve credibility among the group. Lee responded by setting up an independent compliance committee and issuing a personal apology in May over past wrongdoings related to the succession process.
He also pledged publicly not to hand down leadership of the Korea's largest conglomerate to his children. The compliance committee's activities will be factored into Lee's eventual sentencing.