Samsung Electronics' Vice Chairman, Jay Y. Lee, has been accused of bribery by special prosecutors in the ongoing case related to the political scandals that involved South Korean President Park Geun-hye, which led to her impeachment. While this particular case has been continuing for months on end, the news of Lee's potential involvement as a suspect is just coming to light today, as he was called in for questioning earlier this morning regarding whether or not Samsung provided support to Choi Soon-sil to help facilitate a transition of control over Samsung, a position which Lee's father currently holds.
According to a report by Bloomberg, the special prosecutors are mostly focused on President Park as they believe that she may have used her government influence and put pressure on the South Korean pension fund to support the merger of two companies that are part of the Samsung group – Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung C&T Corp., which helps Lee's family solidify a hold over Samsung, but need to prove that Samsung was connected if they want the bribery charge for Park to stick, and if they're able to prove Samsung's connection in the scandal then it's suggested that it could potentially hurt Lee's chances at becoming the new head of Samsung in place of his father. If Lee is prosecuted, it might also do nothing more than postpone his eventual takeover of the position while he is in court relating to the case.
Today's new details about Lee's potential involvement in the bribery follows a statement that Lee made in December of 2016 in which he promised to members of South Korea's parliament that Samsung would do everything in its power to avoid further scandals. While the fact that is now being accused of bribery in this same case is technically not a new scandal, it's also well after this statement was made and before any details of his involvement were made public. It also comes after a report from yesterday in which it was mentioned that two Samsung executives could still face arrest, as the South Korean Supreme Prosecutor's Office is "undecided" on getting arrest warrants for both Chang Choong-ki and Choi Gee-sung.