Prosecutors began investigating the suspected fraud at Samsung Biologics after South Korea’s financial watchdog complained the firm’s value had been inflated by $3.82 billion in 2015.
Judge Soh Byung-seok said that the boldness of the defendants’ criminal acts was beyond the public’s imagination and stunned society.
“Most South Korean people want Samsung ... to become the world’s top-class company contributing to the country’s economy. However, if such growth is based on breaches and unlawfulness, it will not be applauded.”
Prosecutors accused the executives of ordering employees at the biopharmaceutical firm to destroy and conceal internal documents, as authorities investigated accusations of a violation of accounting rules there.
The efforts included inserting nearly two dozen computers and notebooks as well as computer servers in spaces under the floors of Samsung Biologics factories near the capital, Seoul, they added.
Civic groups have said the alleged fraud aimed to boost the value of Samsung Biologics’ parent Samsung C&T. This was achieved by smoothing the way for a 2015 deal involving the parent and consolidating Lee’s control of the group.