Just when Samsung had started reeling from the loss of its flagship Galaxy Note 7, the South Korean giant has again been struck down. And this time around the blow hits much harder as the company’s heir Jay Y. Lee is on trial for allegedly being involved in a corruption scandal that shook the entire nation. But, at a preliminary hearing for the trial, Lee denies the long list of charges he has been accused of being involved in.
Samsung Group’s de-facto head Lee, who recently joined the company board post his father’s illness and inability to lead operations, is now being charged with bribery, embezzlement, and purgery charges. Being the defendant, he is currently being detained at the Seoul Detention Centre and didn’t have to turn up for the preparatory hearing. The aim of said hearing is to organize available evidence and assign dates for witness testimony.
The hearing was attended by Lee’s defense who denied all charges against his defendant, who’s the heir of South Korea’s multi-billion dollar Samsung Group. Song Wu-cheol, further defended Lee, saying that the special prosecutor’s formal indictment was flawed and sketchy.
He added that some of the allegations lack substantial evidence and are only circumstantial, so how can we reach a decision based on the same. Song also says that the prosecution also did not obtain this evidence or interview the witnesses according to the rules that have been defined by the state. He further adds,
It is unclear what kind of order Lee Jae-yong is supposed to have given. The indictment cannot have statements that can create prejudices in the court about the case.
In addition, defense lawyers for other Samsung officials, namely former Samsung Group VC Choi Gee-sung, former Samsung Group President Chang Choong-ki and former Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin, who’ve been accused of being involved in the scandal were also present at the mock hearing. They also all charges against these employees.
Before the hearing, Reuters reports that a special prosecutor said this could be seen as the trial of the century. And it does appear to be the case as the outcome of the hearing will determine not only the future of Samsung but also the country. Previously, reports suggest that Lee could be facing up to 20 years of prison time based on the charges lived against him. And this could prove to be detrimental for the Korean giant.
The said corruption scandal has also led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, who is said to be at the center of this action. Lee is being accused of shelling out close to $40 million in bribes to Park’s close friend Choi Soon-Sil in exchange of favors to build an electronics empire.
Further, if the Constitutional Court uphold the impeachment then this could be the first time a democratically elected President would be thrown out of office. A formal hearing along with the final decision for Samsung’s heir will come this Friday, i.e March 10.