The apparent heir to the Samsung empire got a five-year prison sentence for bribery, embezzlement and perjury.
Lee Jae-yong was accused of making donations in exchange for political favors — specifically, donating at least $36 million to nonprofits run by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of South Korea's former President Park Geun-hye, who was booted from office in March for her connection to this scandal.
Prosecutors say the donations were made to strengthen government support for a deal that would give Lee more power at Samsung.
Lee previously admitted he helped pay for equestrian training for Choi's daughter but said he didn't expect anything in return.
Lee and his legal team said they plan to appeal and claim the payments were made without Lee's knowledge.
Previously, South Korean business executives, like Lee's father, who are convicted of crimes often got commuted sentences or presidential pardons. But newly elected president Moon Jae-in said he won't continue that tradition.