Trial of Samsung heir to begin next week

Indo Asian News Service

Seoul, March 3 (IANS) A South Korean court will begin the trial of Samsung Group's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong next week in connection with a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye, legal sources said on Friday.

The Seoul Central District Court will hold a preparatory session on the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., on March 9, according to the sources.

Lee was indicted on Tuesday on a string of charges, including bribery and embezzlement. He has been in custody since last month, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The special probe team suspects that Lee gave or promised some 43.3 billion won ($38 million) in kickbacks to Park's friend Choi Soon-sil in return for the government's backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.

The business merger was seen as critical to the smooth management succession of the group from ailing Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee to his only son Jae-yong.

Four other senior executives at Samsung -- Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung and President Chang Choong-ki from the group's future planning headquarters and President Park Sang-jin and senior executive Hwang Sung-soo -- will also undergo trial without detention.