Samsung Chief Bribery Scandal News
SEOUL: The heir to the Samsung empire and four other top executives from the world’s biggest smartphone maker have been indicted on multiple charges including bribery and embezzlement, South Korean prosecutors said.
“Special prosecutors today indicted Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong … for bribery, embezzlement, hiding of assets overseas … and perjury,” said Lee Kyu-chul, spokesman for the team probing the corruption and power abuse scandal that has seen President Park Geun-hye impeached, on Tuesday.
“The potential penalties if this goes to trial, and he is found guilty, are severe,” said Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Seoul. “He can get up to life in prison if embezzlement is found to be of a sufficient amount.”
Lee was arrested on February 17 over his alleged role in the corruption scandal involving President Park, dealing a fresh blow to the technology giant and standard-bearer for Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
Samsung is suspected of providing tens of millions of dollars in money and favours to Park and her jailed friend Choi Soon-Sil in exchange for government support of a merger deal between two Samsung affiliates in 2015.
The merger helped Lee, the billionaire vice chairman, promote a father-to-son transfer of leadership and wealth at the group.
Prosecutors accused Mr Lee of giving donations worth 41 billion won ($36m; £29m) to organisations linked to Ms Choi. They alleged this was done to win government support for a big restructuring of Samsung that would help a smooth leadership transition in favour of Mr Lee, who is standing in as chairman for his ill father, Lee Kun-hee.
The controversial merger required support from the national pension fund – the allegation is that this support was granted in return for the donations.
In a December parliamentary hearing, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won to two foundations, but denied seeking favours in return.
Mr Lee also confirmed the firm gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Ms Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regrets.