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Samsung leader summarily indicted for propofol abuse

By
Kim Hye-ran, UPI News Korea
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong enters a Seoul court in November. File Photo by Jeong Byeong-hyuk/UPI News Korea
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong enters a Seoul court in November. File Photo by Jeong Byeong-hyuk/UPI News Korea

SEOUL, June 7 (UPI) -- Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong has been fined $45,000 for receiving illegal propofol injections.

The imprisoned de facto chief of Samsung Group was charged in a summary indictment and fined Friday. Prosecutors typically seek a summary indictment in less serious offenses. The proceedings are executed in a written format and do not go to court.

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Early last year, the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission first received the report that Lee had routinely taken illegal propofol shots at a plastic surgery clinic in southern Seoul.

Lee's attorney at the time admitted that the conglomerate leader was injected with propofol but claimed it was for medical purposes.

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Propofol is a short-acting, sedative-hypnotic agent, which induces and maintains anesthesia. In 2011, South Korea classified the drug as a type of psychotropic medication since many people have become addicted to it.

Accordingly, though it is illegal to prescribe or consume the drug other than for specific treatments that require anesthesia, violations have occurred frequently.

Lee's sister Lee Boo-jin, CEO of Hotel Shilla, was also entangled in similar charges, but police made the decision last year not to indict the heiress, citing a lack of evidence.

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Lee Jae-yong is serving a 30-month prison term for bribing former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who is also behind bars for corruption charges, to help him with a smooth succession at Samsung.

Lee Jae-yong was imprisoned in January and has previously served about a year in prison. He is scheduled to be released in mid-2022, barring any changes to his sentence.

"After the prosecution announced its decision, Lee may have sighed a sigh of relief in his prison cell," Seoul National University economics Professor Lee Phil-sang told UPI News Korea.

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"Because he will only be fined for the propofol case, he can still hold onto hopes of being pardoned," he added.

Pressure on South Korean President Moon Jae-in to pardon Lee is mounting as powerful interests, including the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, have requested the scion's release so he can go back to leading the country's largest conglomerate.

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