Samsung heir apparent questioned by independent counsel
Moving to the ongoing investigation into the massive corruption scandal surrounding President Park and her close friend, Choi Soon-sil.
Samsung Group's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong was brought in for questioning as a suspect on Thursday morning... and he's still there now...
For more on the probe into the business tycoon, here's our Hwang Hojun.
Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, and the tech giant's de facto leader, was interrogated Thursday by the independent counsel team over allegations including bribery.
He arrived around 9:30 a.m. amid throngs of local and international reporters here to see the first corporate leader to enter the independent counsel's office as a suspect in the influence-peddling scandal.
The vice chairman was accompanied by a person presumed to be his lawyer.
Lee shuffled through the crowd as some protesters shouted for him to be arrested,... and offered a single comment before going in:
"I'm deeply sorry, and I apologize to the Korean people for not showing our best image due to this incident."
According to the independent counsel spokesperson, Lee Kyu-chul, the team is reviewing whether the Samsung heir should be charged with breach of trust and embezzlement.
The spokesperson said they haven't yet decided whether to seek his arrest.
"Since his interrogation is still underway, we haven't decided anything yet. It'll be determined after the questioning is completed."
The bribery accusation against Lee Jae-yong stems from a consulting contract Samsung Group signed in the summer of 2015 worth more than 18 million U.S. dollars with Core Sports, a company based in Germany and owned by Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the heart of the scandal.
Soon afterwards, two of Samsung Group's affiliates, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, completed a controversial merger deemed an important part of Lee's succession plans.
The independent counsel team is trying to find out whether the funds were provided in exchange for Choi Soon-sil's influence... through her connection with President Park Geun-hye... to secure crucial backing for the deal from the National Pension Service.
The independent counsel team is determined to get to the bottom of the corruption scandal. But Samsung is not the only conglomerate whose donations to Choi Soon-sil are under scrutiny, meaning there's a chance we could see the heads of other big companies being summoned to the independent counsel office in the near future.