Prosecutors demanded jail terms of one to four years for Samsung executives who were in trials for deleting data related to the alleged accounting fraud at Samsung BioLogics.
At the last hearing held at the Seoul Central District Court on Monday, the prosecution sought four years for a vice president of Samsung Electronics, three years and six months for two vice presidents of the company’s business support task force, and three years for two executive directors at the company’s security advancement task force. They also demanded three years for an executive director of Samsung Bioepis, two years for a manager at Bioepis, and one year for an employee at Samsung BioLogics.
“Samsung Group’s key executives were involved in a long-term crime and delayed the prosecution’s investigation for five months. This is an unprecedented crime of evidence destruction in the history of the Korean judiciary system, given the number of people involved,” the prosecution said. “We wonder how executives at such a large global company neglected law and order. They need punishments as a warning to others.”
Prosecutors went on to say that hiding servers under the floor of a factory’s communication room was “beyond the imagination, something that could exist only in a movie or a drama.”
Nevertheless, the accused tried to avoid responsibility and protect the key executives by letting subordinates face punishment, rather than telling the truth and reflecting on their wrongdoings, prosecutors said, calling for a stern condemnation against them, they added.
The prosecution said Samsung executives disseminated instructions in less than an hour after deciding to delete the data. To implement this, they held a series of meetings. To make the destruction of the data perfect, they hired IT experts to run the permanent deletion program and hid the servers under the floor of a factory, the prosecution said, noting that they used unimaginable methods to commit a perfect crime.
Besides, the executives’ using their position to order consecutive crimes was not merely instigating a crime.
“Most of the 40 workers at the business support task force were from the former future strategy office. They receive reports on management's weekly issues and monthly performance reports, and have a powerful influence in evaluating executive personnel,” prosecutors said. “Samsung-affiliated employees had no choice but to obey their order to destroy evidence.”
In response, Samsung executives and employees said they regretted deleting the data and pleaded for an amicable ruling. They noted whether they were guilty or not in the original case of alleged accounting fraud was the essential point for the verdict.
“If judges make a ruling based on a presumption that they were guilty in this case without being prosecuted in the original case, and if they are found to be not guilty in the original case, the injustices on the defendants will not be compensated,” a lawyer representing Samsung executives said. “Therefore, it is necessary to judge this case on the premise that the defendants are innocent if it is unclear whether they are guilty.”
The lawyer demanded the judges delay ruling until after their prosecution in the original case.
“The defendants must have committed these acts to benefit the company, as the prosecutors raided the company 15 times for one year and six months,” the lawyer added. “Please note that they are deeply regretting their crimes.”