The court said he was guilty of offering bribes to the former president and her close friend Choi Soon-sil to facilitate a smooth handover of power at Samsung, which is a publicly traded company.
"The family had an extraordinary influence over Park Geun-hye for essentially her entire adult life", David Kang, a Korea expert at the University of Southern California, told CNN previous year. A panel of three judges revealed the decision and the investigation also found that Lee managed to hide overseas assets and other activities.
"At the same time, as a precautionary strategy, they're likely to try to bring down the sentencing due to extenuating circumstances - Lee could not reasonably refuse the demands of the country's highest decision-maker", Byun added. Lee has been accused of offering bribes of 38 million Dollars for various departments after the death of his father.
Lee took up the reins of company after his father, Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee, withdrew from business after suffering from a heart attack in 2014.
South Korean media outlets have emerged divided on Monday, following the jailing of Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong.
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The court accepted that Samsung paid W21.3 billion in support for Chung's equestrian training, W20 billion in donations to the dodgy Mir and K-Sports foundations established by Choi, and W1.6 billion in support funding for the foundation, which was run by Choi's niece (US$1=W1,128).
The ruling in Lee's case can be appealed twice. The company has successfully weathered past crises that include two recalls of Galaxy Note 7 smartphones prone to catch fire and Lee's arrest.
A hasty attempt to trade Chung's horse for another to hide the paper trail when the scandal unraveled in autumn a year ago was ruled as aiding Choi's attempts to conceal criminal proceeds.
Lee's imprisonment as an "unprecedented challenge" and encouraged staff to continue working hard as they wait for "the truth to come to light". For decades, South Korea's economic boom has been fueled by companies like Samsung. Instead, Samsung has insisted that a merger of two Samsung companies at the centre of the scandal was about creating business benefits. Some were pardoned and others got sentences reduced on appeal.
"The court should have considered that (Samsung) did not have a criminal intent, but wanted to avoid trouble if it refused the government's request", Yonhap News Agency quoted an official from a local business group as saying on Friday. Lee's conviction, which if upheld on appeal would prolong the company's leadership vacuum.