A special counsel team investigating the influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil is expected to seek an arrest warrant for Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong and his top aides, according to news reports on Jan 13.
Samsung Vice Chairman Lee was quizzed by the investigators overnight on bribery charges.
“He has denied all the key allegations. The investigation team does not have to summon him again at the moment,” said an official from the independent council team.
Lee Jae-yong returns home after being grilled by the special counsel on Friday morning. (Yonhap)
Lee is suspected of having ordered Samsung Group’s top executives to fund dubious organizations run by Chio and her daughter’s equestrian training in return for business and political favors.
A longtime friend of President Park, Choi had allegedly exerted her influence over state-run organizations, the National Pension Service, in particular, to iron things out for the landmark merger in July 2015 between the conglomerate’s two affiliates Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries.
The merger had faced strong opposition from some investors, including US hedge fund Elliott Management. Some critics had claimed the merger, through a stock swap transaction with an “unfair” ratio of 1:0.35, undermined the shareholder value of C&T, and was only aimed at enhancing Lee’s control over the de facto holding company of the conglomerate.
Before the merger, Lee held a 23.24 percent stake in Cheil Industries and 1.4 percent in C&T.
From August 2015 to September 2016, Samsung Group offered 8 billion won ($6.79 million) to Core Sports, one of bogus organizations owned by Choi, as part of a 22-billion-won consulting contract.
The Korea’s largest conglomerate also offered 1.6 billion won to a youth sports club run by Choi’s niece Chang Si-ho and contributed 20.4 billion won in total to the Mir and K-Spots foundations, which were setup by Choi to promote the sports and culture sectors.
Other Korean conglomerates including LG Group and Hyundai Motor Group have made similar contributions to the two foundations.
When Lee testified at a legislative hearing in December last year, he said that “Samsung did not intend to provide financial support for Choi and her family.”
Claiming that Lee had lied under oath, the prosecutors from the independent counsel team has requested lawmakers to file charges against the Samsung vice chairman for perjury.
Park Sang-jin, a Samsung president who is in charge of the firm’s corporate relations, was also summoned by the prosecutors for questioning on Jan. 12.
Along with other Samsung executives including Choi Gee-sung and Chang Choong-ki, the Samsung president is accused of having orchestrated a series of schemes to provide financial support for Choi and her family.
By Kim Young-won / The Investor (firstname.lastname@example.org)