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Special investigators question Samsung's vice chairman amid scandal probe

Special investigators question Samsung's vice chairman amid scandal probe

Special prosecutors probing alleged corruption at Samsung Group questioned its vice chairman amid intensifying speculation the conglomerate's top boss could be called in soon.
"I faithfully answered in response to the various things they asked," Lee Hak-soo, Samsung's No. 2 executive, said in footage shown on the Web site of SBS TV after emerging from hours of questioning that began Friday afternoon at the special prosecutor's office.
Kim In-joo, a top official in Samsung's strategic planning office, was also questioned.
The summoning of the executives came a day after Lee Jae-yong, an executive at Samsung Electronics Co. and son of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, spent 14 hours with investigators. Samsung Electronics is the group's flagship company.
An independent counsel has been looking into alleged wrongdoing at Samsung since early last month following allegations raised last year by a former top attorney for the conglomerate.
Kim Yong-chul, a former Samsung legal affairs official, claimed the conglomerate created a 200 billion won (US$213 million, euro140 million) slush fund to bribe government officials, judges and prosecutors and purchase works of art.
Samsung has denied the allegations.
Lee Jae-yong, 39, has long been widely seen in South Korea as the eventual successor to his father at the family-run business empire.
Investigators are also reportedly looking into long-simmering allegations of shady dealings involving the group's organizational structure, particularly how it may relate to the possible transfer of corporate control from father to son.
For decades, South Korean conglomerates, known as "chaebol," have been accused of dubious transactions between subsidiaries to help controlling families evade taxes and transfer wealth to heirs.
Samsung consists of dozens of diverse corporations, some unlisted, and has a complex ownership structure involving cross-shareholdings by group companies.
Last year, a South Korean appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that found two Samsung executives guilty of selling bonds convertible to shares to Lee's children, including Lee Jae-Yong, at prices less-than-market value.
Both executives have appealed the ruling to the Supreme Court.
South Korean media have speculated since the probe began whether prosecutors will summon Chairman Lee Kun-hee, considered South Korea's top businessman.
SBS TV reported on its Web site, citing a special prosecution office official it did not identify, that investigators planned to question Lee within 10 days.
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Associated Press Writer Hyung-Jin Kim in Seoul contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-07-26 07:29 GMT+08:00