[THE INVESTOR] Choi Gee-sung, former vice chairman and No. 2 man of Samsung Group, said at a trial on Aug. 2 that he, not Samsung heir and Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, approved the support programs for Chung Yoo-ra, a former equestrian athlete and the daughter of the now-impeached President Park Geun-hye’s long-time confidante Choi Soon-sil.
“I was concerned about potential risks of the support schemes, but decided (to support Chung) since I did not expect it to develop into a bribery case,” said Choi, who was Lee’s mentor, at a hearing held in Seoul.
“I did not report (about Chung) to Lee, thinking that having worked at Samsung for more than 40 years I would take responsibility and step down from my post if problems occur.”
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (left) and Choi Ji-sung
Although Lee has become the face of the conglomerate on behalf of his father who has been hospitalized due to a heart attack since 2014, Choi said, he himself was in charge of making financial decisions for the business group.
The conglomerate is accused of running the support schemes to help the athletic career of Chung as part of its lobbying efforts to achieve a smooth power transition from the bedridden Samsung chairman to his only son. In addition, the company allegedly offered 43 billion won (US$38.20 million) to businesses and organizations run by former President Park’s confidante Choi.
Former Samsung Vice Chairman Choi said he was not initially aware of the hidden intention of Park’s request to prepare support programs for equestrian athletes, but was later tipped off by his aide and former Samsung President Park Sang-jin.
The former Samsung president is also facing trial for his alleged involvement in the influence-peddling scandal involving ex-President Park.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)