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Samsung leader named suspect in South Korean political probe

Reuters file photo

Jay Y. Lee

Reuters SEOUL (Reuters) — A South Korean special prosecutor’s office will question Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee as a suspect in the widening influence-peddling scandal that led to a parliamentary vote to imepach President Park Geun-hye.

Prosecutors have been looking into whether Samsung payments of about 30 billion won ($25 million) for a business and foundations backed by Park’s friend, Choi Soon Sil, were connected to a 2015 decision by the national pension service to back a controversial merger of two group affiliates.

Samsung has acknowledged making contributions to two foundations as well as a consulting firm controlled by Choi. The prosecution this week summoned two senior Samsung Group officials for questioning, though they were listed as witnesses.

Lee Kyu Chul, a spokesman for the special prosecution team, told a briefing the Samsung leader had been summoned for questioning at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, over suspicions including bribery, but did not elaborate.

“All possibilities are open,” the spokesman replied, when asked if the prosecution team would request an arrest warrant for Lee. A Samsung Group spokeswoman declined to comment.

Park could become South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to leave office early after parliament voted in December to impeach her over the corruption scandal, which has engulfed the country’s power elite. Speech

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