Samsung Heir Denies All Charges at First Court Hearing
SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong denied bribery and other criminal charges filed by special prosecutors in the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye at his first court hearing in Seoul on Thursday.
The vice chairman of Samsung Electronics claimed innocence through his lawyers at the hearing held at the Seoul Central District Court.
Lee didn't show up at the hearing, as the inaugural session mostly dealt with trial proceedings and other procedural issues.'
Lee was indicted on Feb. 28 on a string of charges, including bribery and embezzlement. He has been in custody since last month.
The special probe team suspects that Lee gave or promised 43.3 billion won (US$38.3 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.
Special prosecutors viewed Samsung's donation of 20.4 billion won in 2015 to two sports and culture foundations controlled by Choi as bribes.
Lee has consistently insisted that Samsung's donations to Mir and K Sport foundations were made customarily in compliance with government requests, while its financial support for Choi and her family was forced by the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae.'