Samsung heir denies bribery charges in corruption case

Seoul, Feb 19 (IANS) The heir to the Samsung Group once again denied bribery and other charges levelled at him on Sunday during the second consecutive day of questioning by South Korean prosecutors in connection with the swirling corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her friend.

Lee Jae-yong, the de facto head of the largest multinational in the country, was arrested on Friday on suspicion of bribery and other crimes in connection with the corruption case which led to the impeachment of South Korea’s first woman President, Efe news reported.

Investigators suspect the 48-year-old tycoon instructed the conglomerate to give financial support to Choi Soon-sil, nicknamed the “South Korean female Rasputin” in reference to her close relationship with Park, in exchange for the government’s backing of a merger between two of the group’s subsidiaries.

Seoul’s central court authorised Lee’s arrest after the prosecution presented new charges and evidence regarding obstruction of justice and the violation of a law on the transfer of assets abroad, among others.

During the second consecutive day of questioning, Lee denied all the allegations and said the money was paid to organisations linked to Choi under pressure from Park, sources related to the case told Yonhap News Agency.

The magnate also told prosecutors that Samsung did not expect to receive any favours in exchange for the contributions made.

Lee and other Samsung personnel previously admitted having paid about 43 billion won ($37 million) to entities allegedly controlled by Choi.

The Samsung heir will remain detained while the prosecution begins the 20-day process of filing formal charges against him, while subsequent procedures could extend to three months.

Prosecutors are expected to continue interrogations to shed light on multi-million dollar payments made by Samsung and other large South Korean corporations, which are being investigated separately.

–IANS

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