South Korean Prosecutors to Indict Samsung Heir on Bribery Charges

The charges against Lee included pledging bribes to a company and organisations tied to Ms Park's confidant, Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the scandal, to cement his control of the smartphones-to-biopharmaceuticals business empire.

Most scandalous is that Lee was tipped to lead Samsung into the future.

Park, whose five-year single term ends in February 2018, was impeached by parliament on December 9, following massive street protests across the nation. Lee's part in the whole affair is said to stem from donations to foundations totalling almost $40 million to help assuage a merger between two Samsung subsidiaries. South Korean prosecutors say they will indict Lee on bribery, embezzlement and other charges linked to a political scandal that has toppled President Park Geun-hye.

Specifically, Samsung execs under Lee's direction are thought by prosecutors to have donated $37.6m to one of Park's advisors, with the understanding that regulators would then approve Samsung's 2015 merger with Cheil Industries. Four other top-ranking Samsung officials have also be indicted on similar charges.

The Samsung heir, who has been taken into custody since February 17, will be prosecuted for bribery, embezzlement and the concealment of illegally earned wealth.

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After the prosecutors' announcement Tuesday, Samsung said it would disband the secretive office.

Samsung Group, which has denied paying bribes to Ms Park or seeking improper favours from her, declined to comment on the indictment.

A verdict on whether Park will be impeached is due mid-March, with the Constitutional Court now deciding whether to uphold the National Assembly's motion to oust the president over her alleged role in the scandal. A former president later pardoned the 75-year-old.

Despite the indictment of a group of key executives at Samsung Group, don't expect the South Korean conglomerate to miss a beat, at least in the short term. And that has enormous implications not just for a global business conglomerate, but South Korea as a whole. That in turn helped Jay Y. Lee and other large shareholders of Samsung Group to see gains of some 855 billion won ($756 million) while causing losses of 139 billion won for the pension fund.

Prosecutors had previously sought to arrest Lee when they summoned him last month but the Seoul Central District Court ruled there was not enough evidence to justify an arrest at that point. This wraps up the team's three-month probe into the massive influence-peddling scandal that has angered South Koreans, leading to weekly anti-president street protests.

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