Samsung’s de facto leader Lee Jae-yong will be indicted on Tuesday for bribery, embezzlement and perjury in connection with South Korea’s sprawling corruption scandal, casting a long shadow over the country’s largest conglomerate.
The planned indictment of the 48-year-old vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics comes as the technology-to-finance group is set to announce some reform measures including the dismantlement of the Future Strategy Office, which has been deemed as the group’s control tower.
Mr Lee was one of more than 10 people to be indicted on Tuesday for their involvement in the political scandal, which is poised to topple President Park Geun-hye, as the special prosecutor’s team wrapped up its three-month long investigation into the influence-peddling scandal.
Along with Mr Lee, four other Samsung executives including Choi Ji-sung, the head of the Future Strategy Office, and Park Sang Jin, president of Samsung Electronics, who allegedly arranged Samsung’s financial support for Ms Park’s “shaman adviser,” were to be indicted for similar charges.
Mr Lee, the grandson of the group’s founder, is the highest-profile business figure engulfed by the scandal and his indictment could cause a leadership vacuum at the conglomerate with nearly 60 units, just as Samsung Electronics, the group’s crown jewel, is scrambling to revive the fortunes of its mobile business. The company is planning to launch its new flagship smartphone Galaxy S8 on March 29, following the costly safety debacle over the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone last year.
The legal wrangling, which is expected to continue throughout this year, is expected to hamper Samsung Group’s restructuring plans as the third generation of the founding family prepares to take the reins. Mr Lee has been leading the group since his father and chairman Lee Kun-hee was incapacitated by a heart attack in 2014.