Picture of the Day: Samsung Galaxy S8’s First Subscriber

First subscriber to Galaxy S8

The first subscriber to Samsung Electronics Co.’s new smartphone Galaxy S8 receives a device from Taeyeon of K-pop girl group Girls’ Generation during a presale activation event in Seoul on April 18, 2017, which was hosted by No. 2 mobile carrier KT Corp. The Galaxy S8 is slated to hit South Korean and U.S. stores on April 21. (Yonhap)

Samsung Heir Lee Jae-yong Arrested for Corruption Linked to ROK Presidential Scandal

Considering the mountain of lawyers that Lee Jae-yong is sure to have I hope the ROK prosecutors have some indisputable evidence if they have any hope of convicting him:

Lee Jae Yong

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., enters the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul on Feb. 16, 2017, to attend a hearing on the legitimacy of his arrest sought for the second time by special prosecutors for alleged bribery involving impeached President Park Geun-hye and related to the merger of two of Samsung’s affiliates. (Yonhap)

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group’s de facto leader, was formally arrested Friday on charges of bribery in connection with a high-profile corruption scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her friend.

With the Seoul Central District Court issuing the arrest warrant, Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., became the first leader of the country’s largest business group to be detained in a criminal probe.

The investigation team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, requested the writ for a second time on Tuesday — less than a month after its first request on Lee’s charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury was turned down.

In their second pursuit of the warrant, the prosecutors leveled more charges against the tycoon, including hiding criminal proceeds and violating the law on transferring assets abroad in the process of giving bribes to the president’s friend Choi Soon-sil.

“The rationale for and the necessity of (Lee’s) arrest is acknowledged considering the new charges and additional evidence collected,” the court said in a text message sent to reporters.

The court, however, rejected the request for a warrant to arrest Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin, saying it is difficult to recognize the need for his detention.

Following the court’s decision, Lee is to stay at a detention center in Uiwang, south of Seoul, where he had been waiting for the ruling.

Prosecutors have suspected that Lee gave or promised some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to Choi in exchange for the government’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Choi Soon-sil’s Niece Admits to Bribery Allegations Involving Samsung

It appears South Korean prosecutors have been able to flip Choi Soon-sil’s niece and she is testifying against her.  With Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong saying he felt pressured him to give money to Choi’s foundation and her own niece confirming the allegation, it seems the prosecutors have a very strong case against her now:

Chang Si-ho (front, L), Kim Chong (front, C) and Choi Soon-sil (front, R) stand trial at the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of a South Korean presidential impeachment scandal, clashed with a niece Tuesday over allegations they coerced Samsung Group into making donations to a sports foundation under their control.

Choi, her niece Chang Si-ho and former Vice Culture and Sports Minister Kim Chong were summoned to the Seoul Central District Court to testify on allegations they colluded to extort more than 1.6 billion won (US$1.35 million) in donations from the nation’s largest business group to the Korea Winter Sports Elite Center, which was established in June 2015.

Chang early on admitted that they forced the donations from Samsung and that she embezzled funds from the center. Her admission came a day after special prosecutors investigating the scandal sought an arrest warrant for Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery.

According to the prosecutors, Lee was involved in Samsung’s decision to give up to 43 billion won to various organizations linked to Choi in return for the Park Geun-hye administration’s backing of a merger between two companies belonging to the conglomerate in 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but what I haven’t seen strong evidence of yet is how President Park Geun-hye was involved in all of this?

Picture of the Day: Former ROK Health Minister Arrives In Court

In this file photo taken on Dec. 31, 2016, Moon Hyung-pyo, former health minister, arrives at the special investigation team’s office in Seoul to undergo questioning. He was indicted on Jan. 16, 2017, over suspicions that he exerted pressure on the state pension fund to back a mega merger deal between top conglomerate Samsung Group’s two units when he was the minister in 2015. (Yonhap)

Arrest Warrant Issued for Heir to Samsung for Perjury and Bribery

It will be interesting to see if the prosecutors have the evidence to prove their case because Samsung and the women behind the ROK Presidential scandal Choi Soon-sil as well as President Park Geun-hye are denying everything:

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., leaves the special prosecutor’s office in Seoul on Jan. 13, 2017, after 22 hours of questioning over allegations Samsung Group offered financial aid to President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of a massive corruption scandal, in return for business favors. (Yonhap)

Special prosecutors on Monday requested an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group’s de facto leader, on charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury in connection with an influence-peddling scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., is accused of giving or promising to give some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to Park’s jailed friend Choi Soon-sil in return for the state-run pension fund’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates, the team’s spokesman Lee Kyu-chul told a regular press briefing.

Samsung signed a 22 billion won consulting contract in August 2015 with a Germany-based firm owned by the woman who is at the center of the scandal and allegedly sent the company billions of won, which was used to fund her daughter’s equestrian training, according to prosecutors. The money that was originally promised to be handed over was included in the amount deemed as bribes, Lee, the spokesman, said.

Some 20.4 billion won the group donated to two nonprofit foundations, allegedly linked to Choi, was also viewed as a kickback. It was the largest amount given by any business group to the organizations.

Prosecutors suspect Samsung supported Choi in return for the National Pension Service (NPS) approving the contested merger of two Samsung subsidiaries on July 17, 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Samsung Accused of Paying Choi Soon-sil to Influence Approval of Controversial Merger

The more I read about the Choi Soon-sil scandal the more I realize that she can arguably be considered a well connected lobbyist taking money from corporations to influence presidential policy.  In the United States lobbying is a well respected profession where in South Korea it can be considered bribery:

Chung Yoo-ra, the horseback rider daughter of Choi Soon-sil, President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics, the country’s largest listed company, picked up the tab for a sojourn by Choi Soon-sil, the controversial friend of President Park Geun-hye, and her daughter to Germany last year, the JoongAng Ilbo learned Tuesday.

Choi, 60, is a prime suspect in the abuse of power scandal that led to the impeachment of Park earlier this month. The prosecution indicted Choi in November on charges of abuse of power, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud, making clear that the president is a co-conspirator in all of her alleged crimes. Park was impeached on Dec. 9 for alleged violations of the constitution and criminal laws.

Samsung has been accused of generously sponsoring the 20-year-old daughter of Choi, Chung Yoo-ra. Chung was a gold medalist in dressage in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, and suspicions were raised that the tech giant financed some of Chung’s activities as an equestrian athlete, such as buying a horse, Vitana V, reportedly worth 1 billion won ($838,574).  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

Here is what she may have been lobbying for to President Park in return for the money that Samsung was giving her sports foundation:

The independent counsel’s team is trying to find a link between Samsung’s generosity toward Choi and Chung and the National Pension Service’s approval of a controversial merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries last year. The $8 billion deal solidified heir apparent Lee Jae-yong’s grip on Samsung Electronics.

The prosecution investigated whether the Blue House strong-armed the state-run pension fund into backing the merger. It failed to prove the suspicion.

Determining the nature of the money Samsung gave to Choi and Chung — whether it was bribes for favors or not — is the top priority of investigators at the independent counsel, a source from the law enforcement authority told the JoongAng Ilbo.

You can read more at the link.