South Korean prosecutors will decide today if they should arrest Samsung’s boss and heir to the industrial empire. Lee Jae-Yong, Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics and son of Chairman Lee Kun-Hee, is under scrutiny as investigations into impeached President Park Geun-Hye for influence peddling continue. The vice chairman allegedly approved payments to Choi Soon-Sil for favorable decisions.
Prosecutors grilled the younger Lee last Thursday and Friday as a criminal suspect. Three other senior Samsung executives joined their boss in the grilling. A special team of prosecutors will release a decision today. They “[took] into account the complexity and the significance of the issue,” as Lee Kyu-Chul, spokesman of the prosecution team, said.
Samsung Boss Paid Bribes to Ensure Smooth Power Transfer
The prosecution should have released a decision on Sunday. However, legal deliberations and the impact of such a move delayed it to today. The scandal involves Choi who coerced top South Korean companies to “donate” almost $70 million to two non-profit organizations. Choi supposedly then used said foundations for her own personal gain.
Samsung is the largest contributor to these foundations. The smartphone maker is also accused of paying millions of euros to Choi for her daughter’s equestrian training in Germany. Samsung’s diverse portfolio, which includes electronics and hotels, accounts for almost 20% of South Korea’s annual economic output, Yahoo News reported.
Samsung supposedly paid the bribes to help secure a restructuring deal in 2015. The deal involved the merger of two Samsung units, Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T. The merger of the two would have ensured a smooth transfer of power to Lee Jae-Yong. The elder Lee is currently bedridden, Reuters reported.
Supposedly, the company also knowingly undervalued Samsung C&T shares. The National Pension Service, which is a major Samsung shareholder, then approved the deal. An ex-welfare minister is now under arrest for supposedly pressuring fund managers to approve the controversial merger.
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