Trial sessions have begun for the de facto head of the South Korean company Samsung, Lee Jae-yong, on charges of bribery linked to a corruption scandal that has brought down South Korea’s president.
The major South Korean firm’s vice chairman, who is known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, listened on Friday at Seoul’s Central District Court as prosecutors presented evidence revealing how he had allegedly used corporate funds to bribe the country’s impeached president, Park Geun-hye, to secure a smooth leadership transition at Samsung.
Lee’s case was a typical example of the “unhealthy relations between politicians and businessmen,” said Special Prosecutor Park Young-soo.
Prosecutors say Lee paid 38 million dollars to funds linked to Park for policy favors.
Park, already impeached, has lost her political immunity and is being prosecuted separately. She is yet to be formally charged, though.
Lee has accepted the responsibility of making the payments; however, he has denied any wrongdoing, saying the business firm was put under pressure by Park’s network to pay the huge sums to the non-governmental funds linked to the then-president.
Several other Samsung executives have also appeared in court, all denying any wrongdoing as well.
Lee, 48, who has been in jail since February, has spent his entire career at Samsung. In 2014, he assumed the de facto leadership of his family’s business empire.
Forbes estimates the mogul’s net worth at about six billion dollars.