Samsung Heir Charged With Bribery, Embezzlement in Corruption Scandal

It’s been a rough few months for Samsung: Last year’s exploding phone debacle was followed by scion Lee Jae-yong’s apparent involvement in the growing corruption scandal surrounding South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Source: AFP PHOTO / YONHAP / Getty Images

Now, as the company struggles to bounce back with the introduction of a new flagship Galaxy S8 smartphone planned for March 29, special prosecutors say they’ll indict five Samsung execs, including Lee, 48. The charges of bribery, perjury and embezzlement mean Lee will have to stand trial.

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong will be formally charged Tuesday amid a flurry of indictments related to wide-ranging corruption claims, according to special prosecutors wrapping up their investigation into the scandal.

Lee was arrested this month despite repeatedly rejecting allegations that he offered bribes worth tens of millions of dollars to ensure government support for a 2015 merger aimed at ensuring a smooth power succession from his ailing father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee.

A probe team spokesperson cited by Yonhap News Agency said four other Samsung executives are among 17 suspects set to be indicted on the final day of the special prosecution’s 70-day term, bringing the total number to 30.

A broader investigation prompted the impeachment of President Park. She was impeached by South Korea’s National Assembly on Dec. 9; a constitutional court is expected to hand down a ruling by mid-March on the impeachment’s validity. She will lose her immunity to indictment if it is upheld.

“Samsung was directly linked to the influence-peddling scandal and was essential to the special prosecutor’s investigation,” said special prosecutor spokesman Lee Kyu-chul. “The indictment describes in detail the private conversation between [Lee Jae-yong] and President Park Geun-hye.”

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