​Samsung raided for second time over presidential scandal

Samsung has been raided for the second time over allegations that it bribed the president's close contact to get approval over the controversial merger of its two key affiliates.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

Samsung's office has been raided for the second over allegations that it has paid bribes to a close friend of the South Korean President Park Geun-hye to get approval of a controversial merger of two of its key affiliates.

Local prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung's Future Strategy Office located at Samsung Electronics' building in Seoul. It is the second time this month that the company has been targeted by investigators following the one on November 8.

South Korea's largest conglomerate allegedly bribed Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of the president, who has been jailed for using her influence to extort conglomerates and influencing national affairs.

President Park has also been charged by prosecutors, but she is refusing to comply with investigations. She is alleged to have met top leaders of local conglomerates, including Samsung, extorting them for bribes.

Several senior executives of the firm have been called by prosecutors for investigations.

The second raid was to collect evidence of whether Samsung attempted to use Choi's influence to have the national pension, which has a large share of Samsung C&T, vote in its favor on the firm's merger with Cheil Industries last year.

The merger was eventually approved and Samsung beat US hedge fund Elliott Associates. The newly formed Samsung C&T is now the de facto holding company of Samsung Group and has a large share of Samsung Electronics. The merger was seen as a way for the ruling Lee family to tighten control over the electronics giant, the group's most important asset.

Investigators are also looking into whether there was an organized attempt on the part of Samsung to bribe Choi for influence.

Samsung was unavailable for comment.

The latest scandal, called "Choi Soon-sil gate" by the media, has gripped the nation with tens of thousands protesting in front of the president's office calling for a resignation. Opposition leaders are preparing a process to impeach her.

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