The verdict is in, and it’s another blow to Samsung. After a months-long investigation into the role Samsung and its heir apparent Lee Jae-yong played in a political scandal that has rocked South Korea, prosecutors have announced that the Samsung executive will be indicted. He faces charges of bribery, embezzlement, perjury, hiding assets abroad, and concealing profit gained from criminal acts — and if found guilty, could be facing years in prison.
The case against Samsung involves around $37 million in alleged bribes made by the company to a close friend of President Park Geun-hye (who has been impeached). According to prosecutors, these payments were meant as financial incentive for the government to support a highly controversial merger that ultimately gave Lee more power.
The indictment comes weeks after Lee, who also serves as Samsung Electronics’ vice chairman, was arrested on February 17. Four other top-ranking Samsung officials have also be indicted on similar charges.
“Samsung was directly linked to the influence-peddling scandal and was essential to the special prosecutor’s investigation,” said Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special prosecutor, as per a Bloomberg report. “The indictment describes in detail the private conversation between Jay Y. Lee and President Park Geun-hye.” In a few weeks, South Korea’s Constitutional Court is expected to determine whether President Park will be removed from office.
Just a couple days ago, Samsung announced sweeping changes to its policies surrounding financial donations and corporate social responsibility in hopes of avoiding such a scandal in the future, but now, it appears that it is all too little too late. Just hours after Lee was indicted, the South Korean company announced the resignation of many of its senior executives, some of whom were also under investigation.
For more background on this developing story, check out our story here.