Speed Reads

South Korea Scandal

Samsung heir apparent to be indicted on bribery, embezzlement charges

On Tuesday, special prosecutors in South Korea announced that they will indict Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and acting head of the entire Samsung Group corporate empire, on charges of bribery, embezzlement, and other crimes linked to the scandal surrounding impeached President Park Geun-hye and her friend, Choi Soon-sil. Lee, 48, is one of South Korea's most powerful men, and his arrest on Feb. 17 was a big blow to the family business conglomerate founded by his grandfather. He took over effective leadership of Samsung after his father, Lee Kun-hee, fell ill in 2014, and he was widely expected to replace the elder Lee as chairman when he stepped down.

It was this smooth transition from father to son that prosecutors say landed Lee in trouble. He stands accused of paying Park and Choi $36 million in bribes to win government support for the dynastic succession, specifically through a merger of two Samsung businesses, eased by the support of the national pension fund. The announced indictment of Lee and four other Samsung executives, three of whom resigned on Tuesday, is the culmination of a three-month investigation by special prosecutors. On Tuesday, acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn declined to extend the investigation, bringing it to an end without prosecutors questioning Park. Park's impeachment is being adjudicated by the constitutional court; if it is upheld, she could face criminal charges, too.