Samsung Successor Now A Criminal Suspect In South Korean Scandal

Samsung Successor Now A Criminal Suspect In South Korean Scandal
Samsung's de facto leader is now a criminal suspect in connection with impeached President Park Geun-hye's corruption scandal.

The heir to Samsung's massive business operation has been named a criminal suspect in the corruption scandal involving impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye. 

Investigators say South Korean conglomerates like Samsung gave millions of dollars to a pair of foundations they say were controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of the ousted president, in exchange for political favors. 

For months, prosecutors have questioned top officials. One of them is Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who's been in charge since his father — Samsung's chairman — has been bedridden due to a heart attack. 

The Samsung group is South Korea's largest business organization.

It was also the biggest donor to Choi's foundations, giving $17 million total.

Samsung also signed an $18 million contract with Choi through her sports management company in Germany. It funded an equestrian training program Choi's daughter attends. 

Among other things, prosecutors are looking into whether Choi's influence, paid for by Samsung, led to a government-controlled pension to support a controversial merging of two Samsung affiliates in 2015. 

In a hearing last month, Lee claimed he wasn't aware of the funding. He said any donations were made without political motivation.