South Korea Prosecutors Question Samsung Leader Over Bribery Charges
Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee left the South Korean special prosecutor’s office early on Friday morning, more than 22 hours after arriving for questioning on bribery suspicions in an influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.
Broadcaster YTN showed Lee leaving the special prosecutors’ office without answering reporters’ questions, then heading to a waiting car.
The special prosecutor’s office has been investigating whether Samsung (SSNLF) provided 30 billion won ($25.28 million) to a business and foundations backed by Park’s friend in exchange for the national pension fund’s support for a 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates.
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Yonhap News Agency said the special prosecutor was still considering whether to seek a warrant to arrest the 48-year-old Lee, the third-generation leader of the country’s largest conglomerate, or chaebol. Yonhap did not cite its sourcing.
An official in the special prosecutor’s office was not immediately available for comment. A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.
Lee was named a suspect on Wednesday and summoned on Thursday morning for questioning.
Jay Y. Lee: The crown prince of Samsung
The corruption scandal has engulfed the highest reaches of South Korea’s elite, with Park impeached by parliament in December, a decision that must be upheld or overturned by the country’s Constitutional Court. Park has been stripped of her powers in the meantime.
Late last month, the head of the country’s National Pension Service, the world’s third-largest pension fund, was arrested after he acknowledged that he had pressured the fund to approve the $8 billion merger between two Samsung Group units in 2015 while he was head of the health ministry, reversing an earlier public denial.