Scandal in South Korea: Samsung Chief Added to List of Suspects
Samsung’s Lee Jae-yong the heir apparent at the electronics giant will be interviewed in the ongoing corruption scandal investigation as a suspect. The scandal has already caused the impeachment of the country’s president.
Samsung is accused of donating to non-profit foundations that were operated by a confidante of South Korea President Park Guen-hye.
The donations to Choi Soon-sil foundations were made allegedly in exchange for support politically of a merger that was controversial.
Lee will be questioned on Thursday by special prosecutors said officials on Wednesday. Samsung did not make a comment.
Lee currently is the Samsung Electronics vice president, but since Lee Kun-hee, his father was stricken in 2014 by a heart attack, he has been considered the de facto boss of the complete conglomerate.
On December 9, politicians voted to impeach the president due to the scandal. Now the constitutional court of South Korea has six months to either uphold or overturn the impeachment.
Until that time, the president is formally considered the South Korea president but she is stripped of power, which has been handed over to the country’s prime minister who is a presidential appointee.
Lee, the heir apparent, is the grandson of Lee Byung-chul the founder of Samsung. He is 48 and has spent his complete career with the company. He is currently the Samsung Electronics vice chairman.
Critics say the position Lee holds on the company’s board is because of his birth and not because of business experience.
The scandal circles around a merger between Samsung C&T the conglomerate’s construction arm and Cheil Industries an affiliate.
Prosecutors are alleging that Samsung handed over $3.1 million to a Choi owned company in return for the support of President Park for the proposed deal.
Lee has given evidence already to politicians related to the ongoing scandal investigation, but this will mark the first time he has been interrogated by investigators as a suspect in the case.
At a December parliamentary hearing Samsung admitted to giving $17.45 million to the foundations in question, but denied the seeking of any favors.
In addition, Lee confirmed that the company gave money and a horse to help Choi’s daughter’s equestrian career which is something he said he regrets now.
Earlier in the week, two other executives from Samsung were interviewed by the country’s special prosecutors but were considered witnesses and not suspects.