Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...

Samsung boss named a key suspect in political bribery probe

Updated Feb 14th, 2017 8:48AM EST
Samsung Bribery Probe

If you buy through a BGR link, we may earn an affiliate commission, helping support our expert product labs.

The New Year has not been kind to Samsung thus far. Just yesterday, both Samsung and LG were found by the US International Trade Commission to have violated US and international trade laws following a complaint filed by Whirlpool. Now, less than one day later, Samsung boss Jay Y. Lee was named by the South Korean special prosecutor’s office as a suspect in a political bribery probe.

Special prosecutors in South Korea have officially named Jay Y. Lee as a suspect in an ongoing probe tied to an influence-peddling scandal that may ultimately see current South Korean president Park Geun-hye removed from office. At this point, it appears as though Park will become South Korea’s first elected leader to be forced out of office; the country’s parliament voted in December to impeach her over the Samsung corruption scandal for which Lee is currently being investigated. The country’s Constitutional Court is now tasked with either upholding or overturning the impeachment vote.

The probe stems from a scandal involving President Park, her friend Choi Soon-sil, and payment made by Samsung to a business and several foundations backed by Choi. According to earlier findings in the investigation, the payments totaled approximately $25 million. Samsung acknowledges making the payments to two foundations and a consulting firm, but denies that they were tied to its lobbying efforts to gain approval for the 2015 merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries Inc, a deal that was embroiled in controversy.

The prosecutor’s office has not yet issued formal indictments for Jay Y. Lee or other Samsung executives named in the probe, but arrest warrants could soon be issued, The New York Times noted.

Lee, whose net worth is estimated at $5.8 billion by Forbes, is the son of former Samsung boss Lee Kun-hee, who stepped down as chairman of the Samsung Group in 2008 after being convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion. He was later pardoned by the president of South Korea.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.