26 August 2019
Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee (center) will be charged with bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas. Photo: Reuters
Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee (center) will be charged with bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas. Photo: Reuters

Samsung chief, executives to be charged in bribery scandal

South Korea’s special prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday it will charge Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee and four other executives with bribery and embezzlement amid a political scandal that has rocked the country.

“The five executives will face charges including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas,” Reuters quoted Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special prosecutor, as saying.

Lee will also be charged with committing perjury before parliament, he added.

Lee was arrested on Feb. 17 over his alleged role in the corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye, dealing a fresh blow to the technology giant and standard-bearer for Asia’s fourth-largest economy, the news agency said.

A Constitutional Court ruling on whether to uphold the impeachment, which would result in South Korea’s first democratically elected leader being thrown out of office, is expected next month.

The other executives to be charged are Samsung Group vice chairman Choi Gee-sung, president Chang Choong-ki and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. president Park Sang-jin and executive vice president Hwang Sung-soo, the spokesman said.

A Samsung Group spokeswoman declined to comment on the charges.

Lee, the spokesman, said the case against President Park would be handed over to regular prosecutors with Park remaining a suspect, while signalling other conglomerates may also become involved in the investigation.

Park was impeached by parliament in December after accusations that she colluded with long-time friend Choi Soon-sil to pressure big businesses, including Samsung, to donate to two foundations set up to back the president’s policy initiatives.

The special prosecutor’s office will make an official announcement regarding the conclusion of its investigation on March 6.

Meanwhile, Samsung Group said it has dismantled its corporate strategy office, the nerve center of operations for the sprawling conglomerate.

Samsung, in a statement on Tuesday, said top group executives including vice chairman Choi and president Chang had resigned and that its affiliates would manage themselves independently through cooperation between individual firms’ chief executives and the boards of directors.

Jay Y. Lee promised in December to dismantle the corporate strategy office amid accusations that he and the office worked to bribe the country’s president and her friend Choi to curry favor and cement his control of the smartphones-to-biopharmaceuticals business empire.

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