A South Korean court sentenced Lee Jae-yong, the heir-apparent to tech giant Samsung, to five years in prison after finding him guilty of multiple charges of corruption.

Lee, who was arrested in February, is the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world's largest smartphone maker.

He was accused of paying $36 million in bribes to entities run by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of ousted President Park Geun-hye, in return for political favors, the BBC reported.

Prosecutors alleged that Lee offered a total of $38 million to gain government approval of a merger between two Samsung subsidiaries that was aimed at extending his control over the tech giant, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.

The central district court in Seoul found Lee guilty of bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury, Yonhap reported.

The court said Lee is believed to have been involved in the payment of $6.38 million in bribes for equestrian training for Chou's daughter, according to the news agency.

Prosecutors had been seeking a 12-year prison sentence for Lee, who denied any wrongdoing. He is expected to appeal the ruling.

Lee, 49, became the acting head of Samsung — which was founded by his grandfather — in 2014 after his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack.

The high-profile case has gripped the nation's interest for months. A request by South Korean media to broadcast the verdict live on TV, considered a break from tradition, was rejected, according to CNN.

Some South Koreans call the country the “Republic of Samsung” because of the company's vast influence in matters ranging from exports to health care. Almost 60 companies affiliated with Samsung account for a third of South Korea's stock market capitalization.