For five years now, Lee Jae-yong has been the Vice Chairman of Samsung. He is known for a simple lifestyle where he avoids public life as much as possible. In his relationship with the press, he adopted a casual attitude, and he likes to respond to e-mails personally. On the other hand, Lee was about to get arrested at the beginning of 2017 because of bribery allegations. He was questioned for 22 hours straight where he had to give explanations about some business activities that were presumably illegal. On 19th January, the Central District Court Justice denied an arrest warrant on Lee’s name on grounds of unnecessary need for an incarceration.
However, on Monday, the third-generation heir of the Samsung empire had to attend once again a new questioning regarding a fewsh set of bribery allegations. The 48-year-old vice chairman is believed to have a main role in a corruption scandal that forced President Park Geun-hye to step down from her newly achieved position. Not only a month has passed since Lee Jae-yong was about to be served with an arrest warrant on grounds of perjury, embezzlement, and bribery.
The probe team coordinated by Park Young-soo, an Independent Counsel, is the same one that conducted the questioning of the Samsung heir back on January 12, 2017. The spokesman of the team, Lee Kyu-chul, admitted that in the course of the past three weeks they found a new series of charges that allows them to question Lee Jae-yong once more. The prosecutor stated that the Samsung vice chairman has to answer new bribery allegations and explain the additional evidence.
The new suspicions rose after the special counsel talked with the country’s corporate watchdog. The interrogation revolved around the merger initiated between Samsung C&T Corp. and Cheil Industries Inc. The special counsel questioned the head of the Fair Trade Commission over any pressure on behalf of the presidential office to precipitate the merger.
The authorities have new grounds to believe that Lee Jae-yong was prepared to handle $36.3 million to Choi Soon-sil who is incarcerated. In exchange, Park’s friend was to facilitate the merger in 2015 between two Samsung affiliates. The special counsel believes that the president was aware of these scams and allowed Choi to continue them as they brought her financial benefits. On the other hand, the president negated an involvement in this matter.
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