Heir to South Korea's Samsung Group Charged in Corruption Scandal
March 1, 2017
The billionaire heir to South Korea's Samsung corporate conglomerate was
indicted Tuesday on bribery, embezzlement and other charges in the
corruption scandal that has imperiled the government of President Park
Samsung's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, was charged along with four
company executives. Prosecutors had spent months building a case against
Lee, alleging that he'd played a role in $37 million in payments made by
Samsung executives to a friend of the Korean leader in exchange for
government support of a merger of two Samsung affiliates that solidified
his control of Samsung Electronics.
Lee, 48, who faces years in prison if convicted, has denied wrongdoing,
as have Park and her longtime confidante, Choi Soon-sil.
South Korean analysts said Lee, even if imprisoned, was likely to try to
continue to run the company from behind bars, as other imprisoned
corporate executives have done.
Control since 2014
was arrested in mid-February, but prosecutors did not press charges
against him until their Tuesday deadline. He took control of Samsung
from his ailing father in 2014, overseeing its vast holdings that also
include theme parks, life insurance and biologic drugs.
The special prosecution team created to investigate the matter also
accused Lee of hiding assets overseas and committing perjury before
Park was impeached in the fallout from the scandal, with the country's
Constitutional Court expected to rule within weeks on whether to remove
her from office. She would be the country's first democratically elected
leader to be ousted from office.
Park was suspended from office in December on charges that she colluded
with Choi to extort the country's conglomerates to donate up to $70
million to two dubious foundations run by Choi.