Samsung Group dismantles nerve centre as chief faces bribery charge amid scandal

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Samsung Group chief, Jay Y. Lee, arrives at the office of the independent counsel in Seoul, South Korea, February 16, 2017. Koo Yoon-sung/News1 via REUTERS
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SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean prosecutors said on Tuesday they will charge Samsung Group [SARG.UL] chief Jay Y. Lee with bribery and embezzlement as the top conglomerate announced the dismantling of its corporate strategy office, the latest developments in a scandal that has rocked the country for months.

Jay Y. Lee, 48, was arrested on Feb. 17 over his alleged role in the corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye, dealing a fresh blow to the standard-bearer for Asia’s fourth-largest economy.

The special prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday, the last day of its investigation, that it would charge Lee, third-generation leader of the tech giant “chaebol”, and four other executives with bribery and embezzlement.

It also said it would charge him with pledging bribes to a company and organisations tied to Park’s confidant, Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the scandal, to cement his control of the smartphones-to-biopharmaceuticals business empire.

“We apologise for the social controversy and distress we have caused,” Samsung Group Executive Vice President Lee June told reporters.

The announcement came ahead of a Constitutional Court ruling on whether to uphold parliament’s December impeachment of Park.

That impeachment was triggered by accusations that she colluded with Choi to pressure big businesses, including Samsung, to donate to two foundations set up to back the president’s policy initiatives.

The 65-year-old daughter of a former military strongman has had her powers suspended. The Constitutional Court’s ruling is expected sometime in March.   Continued…

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