Lee Jae-yong, heir to Korea’s vast Samsung group of companies, will stand trial relating to allegations he engaged in bribery and corruption. Lee Jae-yong has been the de facto head of Samsung since his father, Lee Kun-hee, was incapacitated by a heart attack in 2014. Four other executives will also stand trial.
Lee is charged with offering bribes to South Korea’s President Park, and several of her close friends, to strengthen his control over the company and get government offices to approve key components of the company’s transition from father to son. The alleged bribes included the purchase—with Samsung funds—of a dressage horse named Vladimir, as a gift for the daughter of President Park’s friend Choi Soon-sil.
Prosecutors allege Samsung paid $38 million to four organizations controlled by Choi, including two charities and a winter sports emporium. Another $19 million went to a sports agency that oversaw the dressage training of Choi’s daughter. Samsung allegedly forged documents to make it seem the funds were to pay for training of the Samsung corporate equestrian team.
Prosecutors believe that Choi was President Park’s accomplice in the alleged favor-giving. Park is currently appealing her impeachment. Both Lee and Samsung have denied all wrongdoing.
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