SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group's de facto leader, returned home Friday morning after being grilled in connection with a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend.
The special probe team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, called in Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., on Thursday for questioning over allegations that the country's largest conglomerate gave undue financial support to Park's jailed friend Choi Soon-sil in return for the state-run pension fund's support for a merger of two Samsung affiliates.
Samsung signed a 22 billion-won (US$18.3 million) consulting contract in August 2015 with a Germany-based firm owned by the woman at the center of the scandal, and allegedly sent the company billions of won, which was used to fund her daughter's equestrian training, according to prosecutors.
The group also donated 20.4 billion won to two nonprofit foundations, allegedly controlled by Choi, established in October 2015 and in January 2016, respectively, becoming the biggest contributor to the dubious organizations.
Prosecutors suspect Samsung supported Choi in return for the National Pension Service's approval of the controversial merger of two Samsung subsidiaries on July 17, 2015.
Moon Hyung-pyo, chief of the National Pension Service and former health minister, was arrested last month over his alleged role in the merger deal.
Investigators are looking into whether President Park was involved in the process which they deem a bribery case. Park met with Lee privately on July 25, 2015.
The business group has admitted to making contributions to the two foundations and her firm but denied such contributions were related to the merger.
Lee became a board member of Samsung Electronics last October and his father, Lee Kun-hee, has been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack in 2014.
chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., arrives at the investigation team's office in southern Seoul on Jan. 12, 2017, to undergo questioning. Investigators summoned him as a bribery suspect in an influence-peddling scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment. (Yonhap)