SEOUL – South Korean public prosecutors have alleged that the country’s two biggest business conglomerates, Samsung and SK, funded groups of conservative activists at the behest of the government spy agency during the rule of ex-president Lee Myung-bak, local agency Yonhap reported on Tuesday.
The National Intelligence Agency allegedly pressurized the two companies to donate around 2 billion won ($1.77 million) to these groups during Lee’s government, between 2008-2013, prosecution sources told Yonhap.
The revelations came during an investigation into alleged political interference by the NIS during conservative governments led by Lee and Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office in March due to a corruption scandal without completing her mandate.
The probe started after the discovery that the spy agency tried to influence the 2012 presidential election through an online campaign but has picked up pace since liberal President Moon Jae-in came to power in May.
The prosecutors believe that the NIS also pressurized the companies to donate money to right-wing groups for organizing large rallies in favor of the government and a campaign against the liberal bloc, accusing it of being an accomplice of North Korea.
Prosecutors are set to file for an arrest warrant for a former unit chief of the NIS over these activities, Yonhap reported.
SK – which owns the memory chips manufacturer SK Hynix, South Korea’s biggest refinery and its biggest phone operator – and Samsung were embroiled in the corruption scandal which led to the ouster of ex-president Park Geun-hye.