A South Korean court has found Lee Jae-yong, the de facto chief of the sprawling Samsung Business Empire, guilty of bribery and other corruption charges.
Lee, the billionaire son of Samsung’s ailing chairman, was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday, well short of the 12-year sentence prosecutors had sought.
The criminal conviction is a blow for Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker and South Korea’s biggest family-run conglomerate whose businesses are estimated to account for around 15% of the country’s entire economy.
The so-called “trial of the century” has gripped South Korea for months. It’s part of a huge influence-peddling scandal that brought down the government of former President Park Geun-hye.
Wearing a navy suit and holding a manila envelope, Lee remained seated and silent as the judge read out the verdict.
He was found guilty of bribing Park in exchange for government support for a merger that helped him tighten control over Samsung. The 49-year-old executive, who is also known as Jay Y. Lee, has been the de facto leader of Samsung since his ailing father was left incapacitated by a 2014 heart attack.
The court also found Lee guilty of perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas. Lee has denied any wrongdoing, and his lawyers said Friday they reject the court’s decision and will appeal immediately.
Prosecutors presented Lee as a savvy tycoon who knew exactly what he was doing when Samsung paid tens of millions of dollars to entities linked to a confidante of Park in order to win government backing for the key merger.
The conviction caps a rocky 12 months for Samsung, beginning with the embarrassing fiasco over its fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone last fall.
Samsung Electronics’ (SSNLF) shares closed down 1.1% in Seoul following the verdict Friday. But the stock is still not far below the record high it hit last month.
And although the guilty verdict is a black mark on Samsung’s reputation, analysts said Lee’s prison sentence is unlikely to affect the tech giant’s day-to-day operations. The company has continued to post strong profits since he was first detained in the case.
Lee is following in the footsteps of many other chiefs of South Korea’s big family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol. His father, Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, was twice sentenced to prison — and twice pardoned.
Serving jail time “is like a rite of passage,” David Kang, director of the University of Southern California’s Korean Studies Institute, said in an interview before the verdict was announced. “The question will really be how long does he serve.”
Newly elected President Moon Jae-in campaigned as a “clean” candidate, promising to crack down on the power of the chaebol. The question is whether he’ll eventually pardon Lee.
On his first trip to the U.S. earlier this year, Moon was accompanied by about 50 South Korean business leaders, including executives from Samsung and other major conglomerates.
Moon’s administration “is just going to work with these companies,” Kang said. “So how different is it really going to be?”
Four other former Samsung executives were also found guilty of bribery and other corruption charges at the trial on Friday, receiving prison sentences ranging from two and a half to four years. Two of them had their sentences suspended.
They are also all appealing their convictions.
— Paula Hancocks, Lauren Suk, Taehoon Lee and Carolyn Sung contributed to this report.
Facebook celebrates key milestones for sub Saharan Africa in 2019
Facebook on Thursday released its ‘2019 Year in Review’ infographic, showcasing just some of its investments across Sub-Saharan in 2019. Committed to giving people the power to build community and bring the world closer together, throughout the year this translated into significant support and investments into growing the ecosystem of developers, entrepreneurs, creatives, and many other communities.
During 2019, Facebook Africa:
- Trained over 7,000 woman-owned businesses in digital skills across sub Saharan Africa;
- Celebrated 79 Community Leadership Circle meetups with over 2 ,650 people attending;
- Reached its 45th Developer Circle, with circles now in 17 African countries and representing more than 70,000 members;
- Hosted the first-ever iD8 Nairobi Conference with over 400 African developers and startups in attendance;
- Expanded Third-Party Fact-Checking across 10 African countries;
- Announced the creation of the world’s most detailed population density maps of Africa, created by Facebook AI researchers to help humanitarian aid and relief agencies; and much more.
Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director Facebook Africa, commented: “Africa is important to Facebook, and we’re committed to investing in its youth, entrepreneurs, the creative industries, tech ecosystem as well as its many other communities. Our 2019 Year in Review highlights just some of these investments, and the impact we’ve been able to have here in the region. I’m excited about the future of Facebook and our family of apps here in Africa, as well as the potential of this young, mobile and dynamic continent, and look forward to creating partnerships in 2020 and beyond.”
Check out the Facebook in Africa infographic to learn more about Facebook milestones and achievements in sub Saharan Africa in 2019.
Renewable Energy Is Now The Cheapest Option – Even Without Subsidies | By James Ellsmoor
IN recent years, the world has marched towards renewable energy. According to a new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), unsubsidized renewable energy is now most frequently the cheapest source of energy generation . The report finds that the cost of installation and maintenance of renewables, which was an important stumbling block to mass adoption, continues on a downward trajectory.
Adding to existing efforts made by governments and businesses, these lower costs are expected to propel the mass adoption of renewables even further. The report further touches on the importance of renewables in sustainable development and the need for governments to help achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement, coming just months before the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit being held in Abu Dhabi in September this year.
Among other findings the IRENA report highlights that:
- Onshore wind and solar PV power are now, frequently, less expensive than any fossil-fuel option, without financial assistance.
- New solar and wind installations will increasingly undercut even the operating-only costs of existing coal-fired plants.
- Low and falling technology costs make renewables the competitive backbone of energy decarbonization – a crucial climate goal.
- Cost forecasts for solar PV and onshore wind continue to be revised as new data emerges, with renewables consistently beating earlier expectations.
Further data from REN21′s Renewable Global Status Report show that over one fifth of global electrical power production is now generated from renewables.
Growing Environmental Concerns
The detrimental impact of climate change, including more intense heat waves, rising sea levels, and loss of sea ice, is rapidly becoming more apparent across the world. These alarming trends are projected to worsen at a temperature rise of 2°C above pre-industrial levels according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
As the data depicts, ridding the world of fossil fuels and eliminating the impact of climate change relies on championing the adoption of renewables, a roadmap that requires a concerted effort from businesses, governments, and individuals. Sustainable energy continues to be a key priority for the United Nations, which includes energy in its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The SDG 7 champions renewable energy adoption for the entire world, requiring governments to “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all”.
The Reducing Cost Of Renewables
For many years, financing entities perceived renewables as risky because of high cost, leading to high lending rates for individuals and businesses that need funding for renewable power generation. As the IRENA report depicts, this trend has been on the decline since the early 2000s. The worldwide weighted average cost of electricity from solar power concentration fell by 26%, that of bioenergy reduced by 14%, solar photovoltaics, geothermal, onshore, as well as offshore wind, fell by 14%, and hydropower by 12%.
Connecting The Dots
These new statistics demonstrate that using renewable energy is increasingly cost-effective compared to other sources, even when renewables must compete with the heavily-subsidized fossil fuel industry . Promising signs in the IRENA report show that more an increasing number of corporates are entering the renewable energy industry as the number of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) rise, meanwhile more than 10 million people are now employed in the global renewable energy industry.
Culled from Forbes
Facebook Celebrates One Year of NG_Hub
Celebrating exactly a year to the day since the doors of NG_Hub opened in Lagos, and Facebook further cemented its ambitions to train users across Nigeria in digital skills, Facebook released an infographic highlighting key milestones over the past year
Created as part of Facebook’s ongoing commitment and investment in growing the start-up ecosystem, and in partnership with CcHub, NG_Hub is a multi-faceted space which connects and bring together developers, start-up’s and the wider community to collaborate, learn and exchange ideas. With a number of expert training and events with partners across Nigeria, undertaking in the hub and externally, the aim is to equip individuals and businesses to grow.
Some highlights over the past year includes:
- Trained over 50,800 SMBs in digital skills across 20 states in Nigeria
- Delivered 526 events with over 11,490 attendees at NG_Hub, including programmes such as AR/VR meetups, FbStart Accelerator Programme, Facebook Community Leaders Community meetings (CLCs), Developer Circle gatherings etc.
- Directly supported businesses in 11 different industries from agriculture, through to catering, education and fashion
Speaking of its one year anniversary, Adaora Ikenze, Head of Public Policy, West and Central Africa, said: “I’m proud of the incredible impact that NG_Hub has had in its first year, and continues to have on the lives of young Nigerians. We remain committed in deepening our engagement, increasing skills development and supporting the next set of innovators, tech entrepreneurs, start-ups, in our collective bid to change the face of technology and grow the economy.”
Commenting on the partnership Bosun Tijani, Founder/CEO of CcHub, added: “We’re glad about the tremendous impact Facebook’s investment in NG_HUB has had in such a short period and the ecosystem is already seeing the fruits of this commitment. We’re committed to working with Facebook to position NG_HUB as a major platform that drives smart application of technology innovation for economic prosperity across the region and beyond.”
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