South Korean prosecutors are seeking a 12-year jail sentence for Lee Jae-yong, heir to the Samsung empire, over his alleged involvement in large-scale bribery
Lee has taken to the witness stand for the first time since his trial began in April. He has denied having bribed Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s president at the time, to keep control of the company.
Lee, vice-chairman of the conglomerate’s major asset Samsung Electronics, is accused of offering $38 million in bribes to Ms. Park and an associate to gain government support for a controversial merger of two Samsung subsidiaries in 2015.
The merger made Lee the biggest shareholder in the combined company and strengthened his hold on Samsung Electronics, the smartphone manufacturer.
Giving evidence, Lee said he was not involved in either the merger or the financial contributions that were said to have been made to organisations with connections to the president. A former chief executive of Samsung Electronics’ digital media division has testified that he signed off the financial donations without telling Lee.
Whoever was ultimately to blame for the payment of the bribes, Samsung has already paid a price for failing to prevent corruption being carried out in its name. It should have had procedures in place to make such corruption impossible.
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