More reports on: Samsung

S Korean business tycoons face questions in parliament over donations for favours scandal

06 December 2016

South Korea's eight major business tycoons appeared at the National Assembly today in a probe into a corruption and influence-peddling scandal involving president Park Geun-hye and her confidante.

Lee Jae-yong, 48-year-old vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and the only son of the ailing chairman, was questioned by legislators on a range of issues from why the family of president Park Geun-hye's confidante was sponsored by the company, to the company's treatment of ailing workers.

During the two and a half-hour parliamentary questioning he was also shouted down and admonished by legislators. Major TV channels broadcast the hearing live.

In addition to Lee seven other leaders from South Korea's biggest business groups faced questions about their possible roles in the scandal involving Ms Park and Choi Soon-sil, her confidante.

The scandal had added to doubts of deep ties between politicians and the country's top family-controlled businesses, known as chaebol. The president faces allegations of having played a role when big business groups donated funds for non-profit foundations under the control of Choi.

Prosecutors are reportedly looking into whether some of the 53 businesses that donated funds received any favours in return.

Meanwhile, protesters gathered in Seoul streets calling for Ms Park's arrest and vented their anger towards the chaebol and their founding families, shouting they are accomplices in the scandal.

The investigation centered on the conglomerates' alleged behind-the-scenes deals with the confidante, Choi, and whether the president pressured them to donate to two non-profit foundations - Mir and K-Sports. Suspicions had been rife that the money was then unlawfully funneled to Choi.

Also attending the session were the chiefs of Hyundai Motor, SK, LG, Lotte, Hanwha, Hanjin and CJ.

Each of the chiefs was questioned in connection with the scandal, and lawmakers condemned the lack of morality in local family-controlled groups.

Though the tycoons expressed regret over their links to the two foundations, none  admitted to providing the funds for securing favours.

Investigations had shown that Samsung had received support from the National Pension Service (NPS) for its controversial merger of two affiliates in 2015 in exchange for donations and favors to Choi and her daughter.

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