By Rishi Shah,
Money and Investing Writer
South Korean authorities seek to prosecute Lee Jae-Yong, vice chairman and heir to the electronic mega company Samsung. He is accused of working with Park Geun-Hye, the recently impeached South Korean President.
This case has many ties to bribery and dishonest handling of money by the former president but, her ties to Samsung are prevalent. With massive donations and relations with political officials, Samsung has thrived in many ways regarding mergers and employment policies.
According to the Weekend Australian, “Prosecutors questioned Mr. Lee for 22 hours last week and subsequently sought to have him detained on allegations of bribery, embezzlement and perjury”.
His donations are linked back to the former presidents’ foundations and her close friend and advisor Choi Soon-Sil who is known to be very demanding with monetary contributions for the president. According to Lee, Choi pressured him to make contributions but did not expect favors to be returned on her behalf.
Lee was acquitted and his warrant for arrest was denied due to lack of evidence. There are clear traces of enormous amounts of money being transferred to Choi but Lee was ultimately released after an 18 hour stay at a detention facility.
The Economic Times reported “investigators said Lee gave or promised some 43 billion won ($36.3 million) worth of bribes to Choi, allegedly in return for the state pension fund’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates — deemed crucial for Lee’s hereditary succession at Samsung.”, an astounding number considering this supposedly was given as a donation and no favors attached.
Lee took over his father’s position in 2014 with Lee Kun-Hee suffered a massive heart attack. His position came with many previous ties to the government and big shoes to fill as his father is the most powerful man in South Korea.
Coincidentally, Lee’s father, Lee Kun-Hee, faced similar backlash in January 2008 when his home was raided for allegations of bribery to influential government forces in South Korea.
With Samsung already in the midst of another major controversy due to their line of smart phones exploding or having battery defects, Lee Jae-Yong has a lot of reputation to rebuild.
For the government, this political instability will only lead to economic instability. Trust in the political figures dwindle as South Koreans had high hopes for their first female president.
Park Geun-hye is the first president of South Korea to be impeached since its democratization in the 1980’s. The precedent she left will certainly falter chances of other female leaders to rise in South Korea.
Samsung is not the only company to be in the center of controversy and South Korea is not the only country to impeach a corrupt and dishonest president.
It is clear that this is another case of mega corporations taking control of the political arena and money making powerful figures turn to puppets.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.
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