Samsung accused of bribing South Korea’s president

 
Imran Khan
South Korean protesters hold candles during rally against South Korean President (Source: Getty)

South Korean conglomerate Samsung has been accused by the state prosecutor of bribing President Park Geun-hye $37.19m (£30.34m) for her support on Samsung’s corporate activities including a merger and a public listing.

According to the state’s special prosecutor, Park Young-soo, a 70-day probe has found that the president is responsible for several counts of illegality, including a conspiracy with Samsung to ensure two affiliate companies would be merged, alongside approval for the listing of loss making drug maker, Samsung Biologics.

In a statement announcing the probe’s findings, the special prosecutor's office said the National Pension Service voted in favour of a merger of the two Samsung Group affiliates in 2015, even though the proposal would result in a 138.8bn won ($119.87m) loss.

Special prosecutor Park, referring to the Samsung chief’s Korean name, Choi Soon-sil, said: “Samsung Group vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong, colluded with others including the corporate strategy office chief, Choi Gee-sung, to bribe the president and Choi Soon-sil with an aim to receive support for his succession by embezzling corporate funds.”

Park said Lee pledged $37.19m in return for support on the 2016 domestic listing of Samsung Biologics as well as support for the merger of two Samsung companies in 2015 and 2016.

The probe was part of a wider investigation looking into another scandal involving Park. The president was already impeached following accusations that she had colluded with Samsung corporate strategy office chief, Choi Gee-sung, to procure business donations to two foundations set up to back the president's policy agenda.

Lee and four other executives were charged with bribery and embezzlement over the corruption scandal last week.

South Korea’s prosecutor's office said in a statement that it has asked the team of investigators which indicted Choi in November to take over and conduct the probe “according to law and principle without prejudice".

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