[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics
Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong apologized to the public as he appeared at the special investigators’ office in Seoul on Jan. 12 to be questioned over the nation’s largest conglomerate’s alleged involvement in the influence-peddling scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye.
Samsung Group is suspected of offering financial support to Choi Soon-sil, the impeached president’s longtime friend, in return for business favors.
“I apologize to the public for causing concerns,” the Samsung heir said as he entered the building.
Samsung allegedly signed a 22 billion won (US$18.30 million) deal with a German-based firm owned by Choi and her daughter under a consulting arrangement to fund the daughter’s equestrian training.
Samsung also donated 20.4 billion won to two dubious organizations controlled by Choi.
Investigators are looking into whether the money was given in return for the state-run National Pension Service’s backing of a merger plan of two Samsung affiliates in 2015. Moon Hyung-pyo, the NPS chief and former health minister, was arrested last month over his role in the merger deal.
At a parliamentary hearing held last month, Lee, the sole son of the bedridden Chairman Lee Kun-hee, apologized over the lack of transparency in supporting Choi and her organizations but stressed the group “never took part in the donation seeking any kind of benefits in return.”
“The merger was not related to my succession,” he said. “It was only intended for the best interests of the associated companies.”
The independent counsel on Jan. 11 requested the parliamentary panel, which questioned the figures during the hearing, to file a formal complaint against Lee for perjury.
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com