The 30-year-old singer from famed boyband BIGBANG, who left the entertainment industry as the controversy grew and later enlisted in the military, was found guilty on all nine charges against him, a defence ministry spokesman told AFP.
He was convicted of arranging sex services for prospective investors in his business, as well as illegal foreign exchange operations at opulent Las Vegas casinos. “It’s difficult to believe the defendant was unaware of cash payments made to women for sex,” judge Hwang Min-Je was quoted as saying in media reports.
Seungri’s testimony had been altered during police interrogation, and in court, he claimed, and “lacked credibility.” Moreover, his illegal gaming was “severe” despite his famous profile and lasted an extended period.
Additionally, the singer was forced to forfeit 1.15 billion won (about $1 million).
He reportedly arranged foreign investor prostitutes 24 times over five months, starting in September 2015.
The inquiry into the issue surrounding him unearthed other charges against other musicians and staff at YG Entertainment, Seungri’s former agency and one of the largest K-pop management organizations.
It forced Yang Hyun-suk, the agency’s CEO, to resign in the face of his investigation into illegal gaming.
Seungri was a mobile chat group member where K-pop singer-songwriter Jung Joon-young — who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for gang rape and other offenses — shared films of sexual assaults and other contacts.
The disclosures shook the K-pop industry and became the most high-profile case of concealed cameras illegally photographing women, referred to in South Korea as “molka.”
Jung testified as a witness in Seungri’s trial, stating that he knew that the women were given by an adult entertainment manager whom Seungri knew.
On Thursday, online users reacted angrily to Seungri’s sentence, with many claiming it was excessive in light of the offenses.
“While it is wonderful that he is finally being imprisoned, the sentence is far too light,” a user on Naver, South Korea’s largest portal, wrote.
“It should have been 30 years, not three,” another commented.
The verdict came less than a month before he was scheduled to complete his mandatory military duty.