That was quick. Only a few weeks ago, the apparent heir and de facto leader of the Samsung empire, Jay Y. Lee, was arrested. Days later, Lee was indicted on bribery charges, among other things, and he’s going to face trial much sooner than expected.
On March 9th, Lee’s trial is set to begin in Korea, Reuters reports, an event already seen as “the trial of the century.”
“We are preparing hard, thinking that the upcoming Samsung trial … could be the trial of the century that the entire world will be watching,” special prosecutor Park Young-soo said.
Lee is accused of having bribed companies and organizations that are tied to the South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who’s also being investigated at the moment. Samsung’s Lee has paid more than $37 million to organizations run by Choi Soon-sil, a confidant of the president. In exchange, Samsung allegedly received preferential treatment a few years ago, when Park supposedly helped him cement his position at the top of the company by ensuring that a controversial merger between two Samsung affiliates was approved.
The trial should last for about three months, the report notes.
Park, meanwhile, is currently stripped of her powers following her impeachment in parliament last December. However, a Constitutional Court has to decide whether to uphold the decision or not. A ruling in the case should come later this month.
Samsung has denied any wrongdoing throughout this investigation, and so have Park and Choi. Regardless of what happens to Lee following the trial, it’s likely that Samsung’s business won’t suffer, at least not immediately, though the massive conglomerate’s image might be further tarnished.