Samsung Group to Abolish Division at Heart of Impeachment Scandal?

Samsung Group to Abolish Division at Heart of Impeachment Scandal?

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Group appears to be planning to abolish the group's key future strategy office as early as next month, a group official said Thursday, after the special prosecution team concludes its probe into a presidential influence-peddling scandal.

   Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong was arrested last Friday over his alleged role in the scandal, which led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

   During a parliamentary hearing last December, Lee told lawmakers that he would abolish the group's future strategy office, which has been under criticism over the scandal.

   The office has been responsible for making key decisions and coordinating the sprawling Samsung Group.

   Unless Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn approves an extension of the investigation by special prosecutors into the scandal, the probe will be concluded by the end of this month.

   "As promised by Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong during a parliamentary hearing, we will abolish the Future Strategy Office" after the probe by special prosecutors is concluded, a senior Samsung official said.

   After abolishing the office, Samsung is likely to make key groupwide decisions through meetings of its top executives.

   Special prosecutors investigating the scandal accused Lee of paying bribes worth about US$40 million, among other charges.

   The bribes were allegedly paid to Park and her longtime friend to let Samsung smoothly push ahead with succession plans for Lee, including a controversial merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015, according to the prosecutors.

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