The acting head of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, has been charged with bribery and embezzlement in connection with the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea’s president.
NPR’s Elise Hu reported from Seoul that prosecutors announced the indictment after a three-month investigation:
“Samsung acting head Lee Jae-Yong got ensnared after documents showed Samsung funneled some $36 million to the president’s close confidant. Prosecutors say the money was paid to win government support of a controversial 2015 company merger.
“The merger did go through, after a vote of support from the government. In a statement, Samsung says it has not paid bribes or made improper requests to the government. Lee is currently in jail awaiting further proceedings in his case.”
Those corruption allegations were directly tied to the charges brought against Lee, who also goes by the name Jay Y. Lee.
Samsung is a family-controlled company, in which leadership of the operation is inherited. Lee is the grandson of Samsung’s founder and is technically a vice chairman, but he “has become the company’s de facto leader since his father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee, fell ill,” as The Two Way reported.
“The attention on Lee has shone a light on the powerful, patriarchal family-owned conglomerates here known as chaebol,” Elise previously reported. “The public has grown wary of their influence and coziness with the halls of power.”
Reuters reported that four other Samsung executives also were charged with bribery and “hiding assets overseas,” among other crimes, and that the company had announced the resignations of three of the four.
Samsung is the world’s leading seller of mobile phones and is South Korea’s largest conglomerate.