"We worry how today's guilty verdict for Lee would affect Park's ruling".
Mr. Lee - whose official position is vice-chairman - was found guilty of embezzlement and bribery over claims that Samsung gave funds to South Korea's President Park Geun-hye's unofficial adviser in exchange for political favour. Mr. During that time, Samsung's business has been booming.
Four former and incumbent Samsung Group executives, who stood trial along with Lee, were also jailed. That's helped the Suwon, South Korea-based company move on from last year's Note 7 phone debacle, when batteries caught fire or exploded.
Lee will now be sent to a prison for white collar criminals in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul and not far from the demilitarized zone that separates North and South Korea.
Samsung is a family owned and controlled conglomerate called a chaebol that was integral to the growth and development of South Korea's industrial prowess. Millions of other South Koreans outside the courtroom will be glued to coverage of the first major legal battle prompted by a scandal that has rocked the country's political and business worlds. But the fact these non-profit structures were linked to the Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of South Korea's ex-President Park Geun-hye, became an alarm for the police.
Hundreds of Park's diehard supporters who rallied outside the court on Friday reacted with outrage to the ruling. Prosecutors involved in the case couldn't be reached right away for comment.
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The sentencing comes at a critical time for Samsung Electronics, the most valuable part of the empire.
Along with bribery, he was charged with embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, concealing criminal profits and perjury.
450 applications were received for the 30 seats in the public gallery of the court to witness the "trial of the century", something which the South Korean media billed.
The demonstrators who mounted giant candlelit protests against Park a year ago also targeted Lee and other chiefs of the chaebols, as the family-controlled conglomerates that dominate Asia's fourth-largest economy are known.
"It's like a rite of passage", said David Kang, director of the University of Southern California's Korean Studies Institute.
The monthslong trial has raised other questions about Mr. Former Samsung Electronics executive Hwang Sung-soo was sentenced to a suspended prison term of two years and six months.
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Moon campaigned as a "clean" candidate, promising to crackdown on family conglomerates.
Chaebol owners have long gotten away with light or suspended sentences, with courts citing their contributions to the nation's economy.
Chang Sea-jin, professor of business administration at National University of Singapore, believes things are slowly changing.
But since Lee's father Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in 2014, he has been considered to run the Samsung empire.
"Those days are long gone", he said. Lee's role at Samsung.
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