Samsung’s chief, Lee Jae-yong, pleads responsible to a prescription drug cost.

The chief of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, pleaded responsible in Seoul on Tuesday to the unlawful use of an anesthetic, the most recent chapter within the authorized saga of the inheritor to South Korea’s largest conglomerate.

Samsung is South Korea’s most essential firm, with its electronics unit making up nearly 20 p.c of the nation’s exports, and the practically five-year cleaning soap opera of scandal surrounding Mr. Lee has riveted the nation, giving it a peek into each the seedy intersections of trade and politics and the interior lifetime of one of many nation’s extremely wealthy.

For trade watchers, it has raised issues about Mr. Lee’s potential to handle the large conglomerate — with enterprise pursuits starting from smartphones to life insurance coverage — whereas beneath a seemingly unrelenting authorized cloud.

Addressing the Seoul Central District Court docket, Mr. Lee mentioned that he had used the surgical anesthetic propofol as a part of a pores and skin therapy over 5 years beginning in 2015. A hospital in Gangnam, one of many metropolis’s wealthiest neighborhoods, had issued him dozens of prescriptions for the drug, he mentioned.

South Korean prosecutors had indicted Mr. Lee in June on costs of utilizing a narcotic for nonmedical functions. They’ve demanded that he pay greater than $72,000 in fines. The courtroom is predicted to make a ultimate ruling within the case in two weeks.

Workers of the clinic that prescribed the drug have been charged and are dealing with a separate trial.

Mr. Lee, 53, is vice chairman of Samsung, and has been operating the sprawling enterprise since a coronary heart assault incapacitated his father, Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s chairman, in 2014. His father died final yr, and Mr. Lee is his solely son.

In 2017, Mr. Lee was arrested on bribery costs after being accused of paying $36 million to Choi Quickly-sil, a central determine within the nationwide political scandal of the Park Geun-hye administration. He was later convicted, and served a few yr in jail.

He went to jail for a second time this January for bribing a former South Korean president. Mr. Lee was sentenced to 2 and a half years in jail by the Seoul Excessive Court docket, however was launched in August on parole.

Mr. Lee additionally faces separate costs over unfair buying and selling and inventory manipulation. He has mentioned he’s harmless of these costs.

“I’m sorry for inflicting such a priority over my private issues,” he mentioned in his closing statements at courtroom on Tuesday.

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