Things are starting to look a bit murky at the very top of the Samsung food chain, with claims of impropriety being levied at not just the company’s President, but its Vice President, too.
A South Korean prosecutor is now trying to arrest Lee Jae-yong, the Samsung Vice Chairman and the man widely expected to become the top dog eventually as part of a corruption scandal. For those who are paying attention, yes, that is the same corruption scandal which has already led to the impeachment of Samsung President Park Geun-hye.
So why do prosecutors have it in for Samsung’s top brass? Well, chiefly they’re accusing Samsung of donating tens of millions of dollars to non-profit organizations which just happen to be connected to someone called Choi Soon-sil. They just happen to be a friend of Park’s, and the belief is that the payments have been in exchange for government support of a merger between two Samsung affiliates. Sounds iffy, right?
Lee Jae-yong has already been questioned on the matter, for no fewer than 22 hours at the prosecutor’s office, and the heads of LG and Hyundai have also been unable to avoid a similar fate with questions probing the nature and purpose of the payments made to foundations connected to Choi.
Understanding the overarching scandal is no mean feat, but it appears to revolve around claims of impropriety in the relationship between Choi and Park. Choi is a longtime friend of Park, with the pair being accused by the authorities of influencing the decision-making of government without holding any public office.
The merger of two parts of Samsung into a larger, stronger company has been on the cards for some time, and the accusations are that people inside Samsung are trying to ensure the merger goes as smoothly as possibly by, well, greasing the right palms. Unfortunately for those involved, the authorities are all over this, and if anything can be proved, then it likely spells doom not just for the individuals involved, but also Samsung as a whole.
We’ve earlier had reports of Samsung looking to split the company in two in order to amidst pressure from shareholders to simplify its business structure. With Samsung having already dealt a blow to its reputation with the ill-fated Galaxy Note 7, a spiraling corruption scandal which has the entire country gripped was probably the last thing the Korean electronics giant needed.
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