By Chris Nicholls

SEOUL: Former Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee has avoided jail time, but been fined $112 million for his role in the Samsung bribery scandal.

According to The New York Times, Lee, who stepped down in April following an indictment on tax evasion, breach of trust and securities law violations, was only found guilty of breaching securities law, as the judge said insufficient evidence existed to find Lee guilty on the other charges.

Following the judgement, Lee apologised outside of the courthouse, saying “I’m sorry for causing trouble to the people”.

The judgement has raised the ire of civil liberty groups and the general public, though, as it seems to confirm that heads of large conglomerates, or chaebol in South Korea, are immune from jail.

Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo, and Hanwa group chairman Kim Sueng-yoon, both avoided jail time in recent cases, despite embezzlement charges for Chung and assault charges for Kim.

Special prosecutor in the Lee case, Cho Joong-woon, had sought a seven year jail term and $356 million in fines, more than double that handed down yesterday.

Cho’s office said it would appeal the ruling.