​Samsung boss indicted on bribery charges as control tower disbands

Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong has been indicted for bribery and embezzlement charges, while the conglomerate has announced the disbandment of its Future Strategy Office control tower.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer on

Samsung leader Lee Jae-yong has been indicted on bribery and embezzlement charges by special prosecutors late Tuesday.

Lee's indictment was announced at the end of the special prosecution's 90-day investigation into the national corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Guen-hye.

30 government officials and senior executives of companies were indicted and 13, including the Samsung boss, were arrested in total.

48-year-old Lee, who nominally holds the title of vice chairman at Samsung Electronics, was arrested earlier this month. Investigators' initial request for Lee's arrest warrant was rejected by the court in January, but new evidence has secured his detention on the second attempt.

Lee allegedly ordered or paid over $30 million in bribes to Choi Soon-shil, a close friend of President Park. Samsung has consistently denied the bribery charges and said they were forced to do so.

Four senior executives were also indicted on the same charges, including vice chairman and head of the Future Strategy Office Choi Gee-sung, second in command in the entire group. Choi and two others resigned.

Also announced by Samsung on Tuesday, the conglomerate's Future Strategy Office, the control tower of all its affiliated companies, is being disbanded. Lee first said Samsung would disband the office late last year during a national assembly committee hearing of the scandal.

The office, also called Corporate Strategy Office, was first formed in 1959 by the group's founder Lee Byung-chul. It was a de facto secretariat that allowed the Lee family to control the sprawling Samsung conglomerate.

Because it is not a legal entity and allegedly was used as a conduit to meet government officials, the office was seen as a symbol of corruption for many in South Korea.

Samsung said each affiliate will be run by their respective CEO and board going forward. The hiring of new employees, previously managed by the group, will also be run by each affiliate independently, it said.

Wednesday meetings of affiliate CEOs, which was started by founder Lee Byung-chul, will also end.

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