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Samsung boss to go on trial again for allegations of stock price manipulation

But this time around he will stand trial as a free man.
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Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer on
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Samsung heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong, centre, is facing charges of accounting fraud over the merger of two company affiliates.

Image: Samsung

South Korean Prosecutors have proceeded to indict Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong for allegedly violating local capital market laws.

The 52-year old Lee was indicted on Tuesday, alongside 10 other senior Samsung executives, for allegedly committing fraudulent transactions, stock price manipulation, and accounting fraud by the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office.

The prosecutors have decided not to arrest Lee, however, and he will stand trial as a free man this time around, unlike in his bribery case that is still ongoing.

The indictment comes despite a recommendation made by an independent panel made in June that the Samsung boss shouldn't be indicted.

While the independent panel's decision is not legally binding, the indictment marks the first time that the Prosecutor's Office has not followed the panel's recommendation since it was founded in 2018.

An arrest warrant for Lee was filed in early June, with the Prosecutor's Office alleging that Lee manipulated stock prices prior to the merger of Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T to allow himself to accrue more shares of the now merged Samsung C&T.     

The case was eventually rejected by the District Court, which said there were insufficient reasons to proceed with the case.

At the hearing, prosecutors claimed that Samsung intentionally inflated the stock price of Cheil Industries, in which Lee had a 23.2% stake at the time, while also undervaluing Samsung C&T's stock prices prior to the merger of the two companies.

Lee has denied the allegations.

Lee has been the de facto leader of the Samsung business group since 2014 when his father and chairman Lee Kun-hee was hospitalised following a heart attack.

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