The historic trial of Samsung Group's Vice Chairman and heir Jay Y. Lee is scheduled to start next Thursday, March 9, South Korea's special prosecutor Park Young-soo revealed on Friday. Park said the upcoming proceedings might be "the trial of the century" as the world will be watching to see how the court will deal with serious accusations against one of the most powerful businessmen in the Far Eastern country. Lee's trial that's scheduled to start next week will revolve around charges of bribery and embezzlement, Park said, implying that Samsung Group's chief will be tried for the remaining charges at a later date.
Lee is currently awaiting trial in jail as the Seoul Central District Court approved his arrest warrant in February. Samsung Group's heir has been indicted following a massive corruption scandal that's been shaking South Korea for months. Prosecutors are alleging that Lee paid over $37 million in bribes to several organizations connected to the Korean President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil in order to facilitate a 2015 merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries. Lee reportedly pushed for the merger due to several reasons, one of them being streamlining the succession proceedings within Samsung Group, the largest business conglomerate in the Far Eastern country that his grandfather founded in 1938. The controversial merger reportedly gave more power to the part of Samsung Group controlled by the founding Lee family that officially only owns a minority stake in the company.
Both Samsung and Lee have previously denied all accusations laid out by the Korean special prosecutor's office, though they did admit that the aforementioned transaction took place. However, the defendant claimed he was forced to donate money to organizations that previously backed President Park's policy initiatives, adding how he expected nothing in return. Existing legislation suggests Lee's trial will likely be finished in three months, no later than June 9. In the meantime, the South Korean Constitutional Court will rule on the parliament's decision to impeach President Park due to the ordeal. The highest judicial body in the country is expected to reach a decision on the matter this month. Samsung Group recently stated its intentions to completely reform itself following the scandal.