Samsung Group's Vice Chairman, Jay Y. Lee, was questioned over corruption charges for the second time this year. Mr. Lee was interrogated by the South Korean Supreme Prosecutors' Office on Monday and told the reporters gathered outside of the office that he "will once again tell the truth" to the investigators. While the company's Vice Chairman provided no further details on his interrogation, the authorities presumably questioned him over allegations that he paid more than $37 million in bribes to several companies and organizations connected to Choi Soon-sil, an associate of President Park who was accused of helping Samsung Group illegally broker a 2015 merger between Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T. A part of the aforementioned sum was used to sponsor Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra and her equestrian activities. Chung Yoo-ra was arrested by Danish authorities in January and is currently awaiting extradition to South Korea while her mother has already been jailed by Seoul. All parties involved in the scandal are denying accusations.
A group of South Korean activists was protesting outside of the Supreme Prosecutors' Office on Monday, calling for the authorities to arrest Mr. Lee. The prosecutors already sought an arrest warrant for Samsung Group's Vice Chairman in January, but their request was denied by a judge who ruled that there's no point in having Mr. Lee jailed during the trial that's scheduled to begin later this year. In related developments, the Korean authorities are currently in the process of questioning four more officials of Samsung Group who they suspect of playing a part in the corruption scandal that shook the entire Far Eastern country. Two of them were already interrogated on Sunday as a spokesman for the office revealed that investigators questioned Samsung Group's executive Chang Choong-ki and Samsung Electronics' President Park Sang-jin. However, no new arrest warrants have yet been requested by the Korean authorities.
The investigation of the corruption scandal is currently scheduled to be concluded on February 28, but recent developments suggest that the Supreme Prosecutors' Office may ask for a month-long extension of its probe. Despite hurting Samsung's shares in the short-term, industry watchers believe this scandal won't have any long-term effects on the company's valuation. More information on the matter will likely follow soon, presumably by spring.