Samsung heir named suspect in South Korean political scandal

  • Get News Alerts


South Korean authorities said Wednesday that a Samsung scion will be questioned as a suspect in a bribery case in the massive influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of the country's president.

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics' vice chairman, will be summoned to face questions by investigators probing whether South Korea's largest business group bribed a jailed confidante of President Park Geun-hye to win favors, said Hong Jong-seok, a spokesman for the special prosecutor team investigating the scandal.

Those possible favors include getting the government's backing on a controversial Samsung merger in 2015 that was opposed by minority shareholders, Hong said by phone.

Lee and members of his family were the biggest beneficiaries of the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, which helped Lee increase his control over Samsung Electronics without having to spend his money to buy its shares.

The former health minister overseeing the government-controlled national pension fund was arrested last year. The pension fund, the biggest shareholder in Samsung C&T, voted for the merger even though its advisers recommended voting against it, giving the crucial vote Samsung needed to secure shareholder approval.

Prosecutors are expected to grill Lee starting Thursday regarding why Samsung Group sent corporate funds to Choi Soon-sil, the jailed confidante, including buying costly horses for her daughter, who was on the national dressage team.

Samsung Group did not immediately respond to an email Wednesday seeking comment.

Two Samsung executives, including a man known as Lee's mentor, were questioned in the case earlier this week.

When Lee appeared at a public hearing last month, he told lawmakers that he was not aware of the decision to fund Choi's daughter. He also denied that Samsung tried to win favors through the funds. Lee, the only son of Samsung's ailing chairman and a grandson of the company's founder, acknowledged that it was "inappropriate" but "inevitable" to send money to Choi (pronounced Chwey). He did not elaborate further.

Prosecutors asked lawmakers to file a complaint against Lee for alleged perjury at the hearing. Cho Myung-sik, a parliamentary official, said Wednesday that lawmakers had received the request and would review it.

Authorities declined Wednesday to confirm how much money Samsung spent on Choi's companies or foundations. Samsung Group declined to comment when asked about the matter last week.

According to local media and legislators, Samsung signed a contract worth over $18 million with Choi's company to bankroll her daughter's equestrian training in Germany and donated another $17 million to two nonprofit foundations whose funds were allegedly for Choi's personal use.

Hong, the spokesman, said that prosecutors have examined a tablet PC that Choi had owned and found details about what type of benefits Samsung provided to her, including the Samsung funds used in Germany.

Once prosecutors finish questioning Lee, they will determine whether to add more Samsung officials on a list of suspects, Hong said.

President Park's powers have been suspended since Dec. 9, when South Korea's opposition-controlled parliament voted to impeach her over the scandal. Her trial is currently being held at the Constitutional Court to decide whether she will be permanently removed from power.

Comments

More News

Opinion

  • Effect of monetary policy on risk, stability and financial crises Effect of monetary policy on risk, stability and financial crises

    The crisis of 2008–09 has reignited a new interest in understanding money and credit fluctuations in the macro economy, and the crucial roles they could play in the amplification, propagation, and generation of shocks both in normal times and, even more so, in times of financial distress. This may reopen a number of fundamental fault lines in modern macroeconomic thinking between theories that treat the financial system as irrelevant, or, at least, not central to the understanding of economic outcomes, and those that reserve a central role for financial intermediation.

    Anup Paudel

  • Air pollution control measures for Kathmandu Valley Air pollution control measures for Kathmandu Valley

    According to the World Air Quality Index website, Air quality index of Ratnapark, Kathmandu was 158 on April 22 which is unhealthy. This means children and people with respiratory diseases should avoid outdoor exertion at this pollution level. If this quantity increases to more than 300, air quality level is considered as hazardous which means everyone should avoid outdoor exertion.

    Karna Dahal

Blog

  • The return trip The return trip

    It took us over five hours, drenched in rain, walking through treacherous ratomato sluggishly. It should not have taken more than two hours in a normal day. It was the cruellest irony that no sooner did we reach Panchkhal and sat at the Pipal Chautari to rest, than the bus we had left behind, arrived with people in the bus bursting with laughter on seeing us.

    Hemant Arjyal

  • Prospects for Nepali talents in the Diaspora Prospects for Nepali talents in the Diaspora

    When Indu, a Nepali American teen studying in Virginia, asked Panta whether she could inspire Nepali youngsters into music industry and convince their parents to consider Nepali music as a path to professionalism, the female heartthrob of Nepali music could not fully convince her.

    Sukriti Sharma

Readers Column

  • Traffic Police in Kathmandu

    As busy and hassling as the traffic system in Kathmandu is, the Traffic Police here have to handle an equally strenuous job. Over 1,400 traffic officers in and around the Kathmandu Valley battle against the pestering traffic and air pollution each day.

  • Menstrual taboo outdated

    I have seen my sisters and friends isolated and treated in discriminatory manner during their first menstruation cycle. They were not allowed to look at the sun, to touch water source, flower, fruits, any male family member, nor even hear their voice. The activist may claim the situation has changed and I do agree but still during every month my loved ones turns into untouchables beings.

Popular

Recommended

Suchanapati