SEOUL – The vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics and heir of the Samsung Group, Lee Jae-yong, will be interrogated as a suspect in connection with the “Korean Rasputin” case, a spokesperson of the prosecution announced on Wednesday.
Lee will be questioned as a suspect in a bribery case on Thursday, according to the spokesperson of the prosecutors handling the case that led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, is accused of extorting tens of millions of dollars from major conglomerates in the country through two foundations with the president’s help.
On Dec. 6, Lee denied having donated money in exchange for political favors during a parliamentary hearing.
Lee was questioned in parliament along with the heads of seven other major South Korean companies about their alleged involvement in the biggest political scandal to have hit the country in recent years.
Another two Samsung executives were questioned Monday as witnesses in the case.
The prosecutors have accused the president’s friend of bullying conglomerates, including Samsung, to donate some 77.4 billion Korean won ($65 million) to two foundations, which Choi controlled de facto, and part of which she allegedly appropriated for her own use later.
Prosecutors believe Samsung, the nation’s largest business group, signed a 22 million Korean won (some $18.2 million) contract with Choi’s company, headquartered in Germany, and also provided financial assistance to her daughter for her equestrian training and to purchase horses.