Two top executives of Samsung Group offered to resign in the aftermath of a corruption scandal that shook both the company and the entire country of South Korea. Samsung Group’s President Chang Choong-gi and the conglomerate’s Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung have allegedly offered their resignations on Friday, anonymous sources familiar with the situation have said. Both men were labeled as suspects by the South Korean special prosecutor’s office that recently managed to enforce an arrest warrant against Samsung’s Vice Chairman and heir Jay Y. Lee. It’s unclear whether the two executives have offered their resignations in a formal manner or whether the offer was an unofficial one. Likewise, there’s still no information on whether Samsung Group’s Board of Directors (BoD) will accept their resignations and if it does, whether Chang and Choi will remain involved with the company in a different capacity. Samsung Group has yet to comment on these latest reports.
If the company’s two executives truly resign, their departure will mark the latest consequence of the influence-peddling scandal that already did a lot of damage to Samsung. The conglomerate’s Vice Chairman Lee was arrested after the authorities uncovered evidence suggesting he paid more than $37 million in bribes to facilitate a 2015 merger between Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T. The merger of two Samsung’s affiliates was not only meant to help the company but also personally benefit Lee seeing how it would streamline the succession proceedings within the company and grant more power to the part of the conglomerate that’s controlled by the founding Lee family. While Lee admitted to donating the aforementioned sum to several organizations connected to the Korean President Park and her confidante Choi Soon-sil, he claims he was forced to do so and wasn’t expecting anything in return.
The special prosecutor’s office apparently doesn’t believe Lee’s defense as it already accused Samsung Group’s Vice Chairman of bribery, perjury, hiding of assets, and embezzlement, in addition to charging him with concealing the proceeds of a criminal act. While most industry watchers believe Lee’s arrest won’t necessarily affect Samsung in the short term, the company’s global strategy pertaining to mergers and acquisitions may be affected if Lee ends up getting a prison sentence.