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Samsung chief fined for propofol abuse

By Kim Myung-il & Kim Tae-gyu, UPI News Korea
Samsung chief fined for propofol abuse
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong takes part in a trial for a charge over his alleged propofol use at the Seoul Central District Court Tuesday. The court convicted and fined him. Photo by Moon Jae-won/UPI News Korea

SEOUL, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- A Seoul court convicted and fined Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong for illegal use of the sedative propofol.

The Seoul Central District Court levied a $60,000 fine and an additional forfeiture of $14,000 on Lee, in line with the prosecution's demands, on Tuesday.

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Prosecutors accused Lee of having taken propofol 41 times at a plastic surgery clinic in southern Seoul between January 2015 and May 2020 under the guise of skin treatment.

Lee's lawyers countered that he used propofol only for medical purposes.

"When considering the propofol doses, the violations are not minor," the court said in the ruling.

Lee said he was reflecting on his conduct, although he maintained the propofol use was for treatment. When asked by reporters whether he would make an appeal to the high court, he did not respond.

In South Korea, it is illegal to prescribe or consume propofol for non-medical purposes. The country classified the drug as a type of psychotropic medication in 2011, two years after singer Michael Jackson died from propofol abuse.

In January, Lee, 53, was sentenced to 30 months in prison after being charged of bribing former President Park Geun-hye in return for increased control over Samsung Group, South Korea's largest business conglomerate.

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Lee was released on parole in August.

He is also facing a separate trial over charges of financial crime, including stock price manipulation and auditing violations related to a merger between two Samsung units in 2015.

Samsung Electronics officials did not comment on the trial.

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