A former Samsung Group vice chairman appeared at a Seoul prosecution office Thursday for questioning over alleged bribery involving former President Lee Myung-bak.
Lee Hak-soo, 72, is under investigation over his involvement in Samsung's alleged payment of fees to a U.S. law firm for DAS, a local auto parts maker linked to the former leader.
Lee arrived at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in the morning. The prosecution had already raided his home and the main office of Samsung Electronics. Lee headed the now-disbanded group control tower in the late 1990s and 2000s.
DAS is owned by a brother of the former president, but former President Lee Myung-bak has long been suspected of being its real owner.
DAS raised a suit against an investment advisory firm in the United States, seeking to recoup its 14 billion-won (US$13 million) investment in the company. Samsung is suspected of paying billions of won in fees to the law firm, Akin Gump, on behalf of DAS. Samsung was also a client of the law firm.
Prosecutors suspect the payment was a bribe from Samsung in return for a favor from the Lee government, since the tech behemoth had no connection with DAS.
Given the timeline of the events, the prosecution suspects that it may have been related to the special pardon of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee granted by the former president in 2009. Lee was convicted of embezzlement and other charges in a slush fund scandal.
The company is also under investigation over suspicion that it created a 12 billion-won slush fund for the former president, whose five-year term ended in early 2013. Lee has denied the accusations. (Yonhap)