Samsung chief grilled for 15 hours in South Korea graft probe

Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:06pm EST
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By Se Young Lee and Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Group [SAGR.UL] chief Jay Y. Lee was questioned by South Korea's special prosecutor for more than 15 hours as part of an investigation into a graft scandal that threatens to topple President Park Geun-hye.

The 48-year-old executive, the third-generation leader of the country's top conglomerate, made no comment as he was shown on live television leaving the prosecutor's office in southern Seoul in a black car early on Tuesday.

Lee, who has denied allegations of bribery through Samsung Group spokespeople, had arrived at the office on Monday morning.

South Korea's special prosecutor has focused on Samsung Group's relationship with Park, accusing Lee in his capacity as Samsung chief of pledging 43 billion won to a business and organizations backed by Park's friend, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for support of a 2015 merger of two Samsung companies.

Proving illicit dealings between Park or those linked to her and Samsung Group is critical for the special prosecutor's case that ultimately targets Park, analysts have said.

The prosecution has also identified four other Samsung executives as suspects and have summoned three of them.

Samsung Group President Chang Choon-ki was questioned on Sunday and Samsung Electronics (005930.KS: Quote) President Park Sang-jin and another executive were quizzed on Monday.

Park, Choi, and Samsung Group [SAGR.UL] have denied bribery accusations.   Continued...

Lee Jae-yong (C), vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, arrives to be questioned as a suspect in a corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye, at the office of the independent counsel in Seoul on February 13, 2017.  REUTERS/Jung Yeon-Je/Pool