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In South Korea Corruption Scandal, Samsung Leader Quizzed for Over 22 Hours

In South Korea Corruption Scandal, Samsung Leader Quizzed for Over 22 Hours
Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee was grilled for more than 22 hours on bribery suspicions in an influence-peddling scandal that could topple South Korean President Park Geun-hye, by the South Korean special prosecutor's office.
Allegations that in exchange for the national pension fund's support for a 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, the company provided 30 billion won ($25.46 million) to a business and foundations backed by Park's friend, Choi Soon-sil, are being probed by prosecutors.
The issue of seeking a warrant to arrest the 48-year-old Lee, the third-generation leader of South Korea's largest conglomerate, or chaebol would be decided “soon”, said a spokesman said the special prosecutor's office. There were no plans to bring him in for further questioning.
Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special prosecutors' office who declined to elaborate sad that ee denied some of the suspicions against him but had admitted to others.
A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment.
With Park impeached by parliament in December, a decision that must be upheld or overturned by the Constitutional Court, the corruption scandal has engulfed the highest reaches of South Korea's elite. Any wrongdoing has been denied by Park, who has been stripped of her powers in the meantime.
Jay Y. Lee was summoned on Thursday morning for questioning and named as a suspect on Wednesday.
In early December, the heads of nine of South Korea's biggest chaebol were subjected to an unprecedented 13-hour televised grilling by a panel investigating the presidential scandal and prosecutors were looking into whether he gave false testimony during that parliamentary hearing.
Rejecting assertions from lawmakers that Samsung lobbied to get the fund to back the merger, Jay Y. Lee denied bribery accusations during that hearing.
There was a fall of 2.5 percent in the shares in group flagship Samsung Electronics, the world's largest smartphone maker.
Early on Friday, Park Sang-jin, a president at Samsung Electronics, was also questioned for 13 hours by the special prosecution.
A contract to sponsor an equestrian team was signed by Park Sang-jin for Samsung Electronics in 2015. The daughter of President Park's friend Choi, a key figure in the scandal and who is in detention and undergoing a criminal trial, was the main beneficiary of the team. Choi has denied wrongdoing.
After she was sought by South Korean authorities, her daughter, 20-year-old Chung Yoo-ra, was arrested by Danish police early this month. Any wrong doing has been denied by Chung, who won a gold medal in group dressage at the 2014 Asian Games.
On Monday, two other Samsung Group executives were questioned by special prosecutors.
Samsung has repeatedly denied accusations of lobbying to push through the controversial 2015 merger of affiliates Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc. but has acknowledged making payments to two foundations at the center of the scandal, as well as to a consulting firm controlled by Choi.
two foundations that were set up to back President Park's initiatives were given donations by dozens of South Korean corporate groups totaling 77.4 billion won ($65.75 million). Samsung's donations were the largest.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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