Investigators raid Samsung financial unit

Dozens of investigators early Friday raided a subsidiary of South Korea's largest conglomerate Samsung as part of a probe into alleged mass bribery and bookkeeping fraud, prosecutors said.

Investigators raid Samsung financial unit
Armed with a search warrant, 40 investigators including six state prosecutors moved into the headquarters of Samsung Securities.

'Various circumstances have raised concerns that evidence might be destroyed and we've felt the need to search and confiscate,' senior prosecutor Kim Soo-Nam told journalists.

'We have judged that such an operation is required in connection with the (alleged amassing of) slush funds,' he said.

The high-stakes probe began after the Samsung Group's former chief legal adviser accused it of running multi-million dollar slush funds to bribe policymakers, tax authorities, supervisory bodies, the judiciary and the media.

Lawyer Kim Yong-Chul said the group opened bank accounts in the names of senior staff, including himself, to manage the slush funds.

Samsung has denied all his corruption and bribery allegations as one-sided claims unsupported by evidence. It says the former legal adviser bore personal grudges against the group.

But the claims appeared to be partly corroborated by a former presidential aide. Recently he said that in 2004 he had received—and returned—wads of cash from Samsung.

The ex-presidential aide, Lee Yong-Chul, presented pictures of the cash and the name card of a Samsung executive.

Prosecutors have barred nine Samsung executives, including group boss Lee Kun-Hee, from leaving the country.

Apart from their probe, legislators from all parties have passed a bill to set up an independent inquiry despite objections from the government.

With 58 subsidiaries including Samsung Electronics, the group wields enormous influence in South Korea, to the extent that some critics refer to it as the 'Republic of Samsung.'

Group-wide assets are valued at 280.8 billion dollars and its exports were worth 66.3 billion dollars last year, more than 20 percent of the nation's total.

In the wake of the allegations, the group has decided to cancel celebrations planned for December 5 to mark Lee Kun-Hee's 20th anniversary as chairman.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Kasım 2007, 15:29
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