Samsung heir denies bribery charges at hearing

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, April 7 (IANS) Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group on Friday denied bribery allegations in his first court hearing held in relation to a massive corruption scandal that ousted President Park Geun-hye.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., appeared at the Seoul Central District Court, along with four other senior company executives, Yonhap News Agency reported.

He was arrested and indicted in February on charges of giving or promising 43.3 billion won ($38 million) to Park's close friend Choi Soon-sil as kickbacks in return for helping him secure group control through a merger of two key units.

Park was named an accomplice in the bribery allegations.

Of the total, 20.4 billion won went to two dubious foundations allegedly controlled by Choi.

Park is suspected of colluding with her friend to force dozens of local conglomerates, including Samsung, to "donate" a total of 77.4 billion won to the foundations.

"It was an assistance made following the President's request to promote cultural prosperity and sports development, which did not involve getting any favours in return," Lee's legal representative said.

"Business restructuring is one of Samsung's various corporate management activities," the lawyer said.

"It was not for transferring power."

The Seoul district court is expected to give its ruling in May.