Jay Y. Lee, the current head of the Samsung Group, will be questioned by a special prosecutor Thursday as part of an investigation into a wide-ranging corruption scandal in South Korea that has reached all the way to the country’s president.
The case centers on allegations that Samsung, among other businesses, paid millions of dollars to a mysterious associate of President Park Geun-hye in exchange for favorable government decisions. That associate, Choi Soon-sil, is accused of accepting payments for her daughter’s competitive equestrian career as bribes.
In exchange, according to the Korea Times, Choi is said to have used her influence with President Park to win government support for a merger between two of Samsung’s business units, a move which helped Lee consolidate his power base and become the effective leader of the company after his father, Lee Kun-hee, was unable to continue in his day-to-day role as chairman due to health concerns.
Lee is also accused of perjury, the Times reports, after denying to a parliamentary hearing last month that he had had discussions with the president in which he was asked to pay the alleged bribes to Choi’s foundations. Notes from the meeting subsequently made public suggest otherwise.
Under South Korean law, President Park cannot be indicted while in office, but the National Assembly is pushing to impeach her. Other large South Korean companies, including Hyundai and LG, have also been implicated in the investigation.
Despite the news, Samsung stocks are still trading at nearly $1,598 a share, having also weathered the Galaxy Note 7 battery issue without a substantial dip.