Samsung Leader Indicted on Bribery Charges

FILE PHOTO Jay Y. Lee, the only son of Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee and the company’s vice chairman, attends the 2015 HO-AM Prize ceremony which was established by Lee Kun-hee, in Seoul, South Korea, June 1, 2015. REUTERS/Cho Seong-joon/Pool/File photo

The New York Times reported yesterday the latest development in Samsung of South Korea’s ongoing bribery scandal, with the head of Samsung, Lee-Jea-yong, indicted on bribery and embezzlement charges on February 28, “becoming one of the most prominent business tycoons ever to face trial in South Korea.”

HP Inc. is set to acquire Samsung’s Printing Solution Group – now spun off from Samsung and called S-Printing Solution Company – for $1.05 billion this year.

The indictment of Lee came as the result of a special prosecutor’s 90-day investigation of a corruption scandal that has already led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Lee was arrested on February 17th, “a dramatic development in South Korea’s struggle to end collusive ties between the government and the family-controlled conglomerates, or chaebol, that dominate the economy,” according to The New York Times.

Four other senior executives of Samsung were also indicted on February 28th, but not arrested, on the same corruption charges as Lee, and three of the four resigned.

Lee was accused of giving or promising $38 million in bribes to Choi Soon-sil, an associate of the former president Park. In return, the prosecutor said in his indictment, Lee received political favors, most notably government support for a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015 that helped him inherit corporate control from his incapacitated father, Lee Kun-hee.

Lee was also accused of committing perjury when he stated during a parliamentary hearing that he had never bribed Choi or  Park. He still claims that the “donations” Samsung paid out to Choi were coerced, suggesting that the company was extorted.

Samsung has said it will try to clear Lee’s name at trial.

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