Hwang Sung-soo, Executive Vice President of Samsung Electronics has been called for questioning over a developing corruption scandal in South Korea. The summon was issued by the Korean High Prosecutor's Office on Friday with one of the office's representatives saying that Hwang is currently treated as a witness. Authorities gave no further details on the matter, and Samsung's representatives have so far been declining requests for comments.
Samsung's VP is the fifth top executive of Samsung Group that was called for questioning over a corruption scandal involving President Park and her confidante Choi Soon-sil whom the company allegedly bribed in exchange for her assistance over a 2015 merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries. Samsung Group's Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee was already labeled as a suspect by the prosecution, but the court denied to issue an arrest warrant for him yesterday. Regardless, Lee is now facing accusations of bribery, embezzlement, and perjury, the latter of which he allegedly committed during a December parliamentary hearing probing his involvement in the scandal.
President Park was already impeached by the South Korean parliament last month, but that decision has yet to be confirmed or overruled by the Constitutional Court. The President didn't admit to allegations that she allowed Choi — who holds no official position in the government — to have massive influence over various state affairs, including the 2015 merger of two Samsung Group's affiliates. As the National Pension Fund (NPS) was a major shareholder of Cheil Industries, it had to approve the merger with Samsung C&T, and Choi allegedly acquired that blessing after receiving $37 million in bribes from Lee. Like all other actors in this scandal, Choi also denied all accusations and is currently in jail awaiting trial. Samsung's officials previously admitted to financing some organizations connected to Choi but denied allegations that their financial contributions were in any way related to the controversial 2015 merger. The special prosecutor's office currently said it isn't looking into charging any other executives at Samsung but said that stance could change in the future as more evidence is uncovered. Given the high-profile nature of this case, the investigation is bound to continue for some time.