The political leadership of South Korea found itself in the middle of a significant corruption scandal earlier this month after a local television network JTBC published files and emails alleging that the president of the Far Eastern country, Park Geun-hye was involved in some shady dealings. Among other things, Ms. Park was accused of strong-arming the largest conglomerates in South Korea into paying 80 billion won ($72 million) to Mir and K-Sports Foundations, two non-profit groups which promote Korean culture worldwide.
Closely connected to this scandal is Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of President Park who the South Korean media has recently been portraying as the eminence grise of Seoul. Ms. Choi has recently been accused of using her proximity to President Park in order to meddle in state affairs for her own profit. While the scope of this corruption is still unraveling before our eyes, Samsung Electronics’ offices in Seoul have been raided earlier this month as a part of an ongoing investigation into Ms. Choi and her dealings. The scandal continued today after Samsung’s Executive President Chang Choong-ki received an official call for questioning from the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office of South Korea. This probe was once again prompted by Ms. Choi’s alleged activities as authorities are looking into reports that she helped Samsung C&T finalize the merger with Cheil Industries last year. Interestingly enough, this is the same acquisition that has recently been investigated over insider trading. In any case, Supreme Prosecutor’s Office is now trying to figure out whether Samsung’s 3.5 billion won ($2.99 million) worth of funding to Ms. Choi’s company Widec Sports was somehow connected to the fact that she helped the company facilitate the said merger.
The interrogation of Chang Choong-ki took place in Seoul earlier today, and The Investor reports that Samsung’s Executive President stated he has no knowledge of the company financially supporting either Ms. Choi or her daughter Chung Yu-ra. The latter has allegedly directly benefitted from the said funding to Widec Sports as Samsung’s money was traced to purchases of equestrian equipment, horses, and luxurious riding fields for Ms. Choi’s daughter. More information is expected to follow soon as the South Korean authorities are looking to wrap up this investigation before President Park’s term comes to an end in early 2018.