Samsung Electronics denies financing ‘Rasputin’ racket


Seoul, March 24: The chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics said on Friday during a shareholders’ meeting that despite the allegations against the company’s heir, the firm was not involved in the South Korean “Rasputin” corruption scandal.

Kwon Oh-hyun apologised to the shareholders gathered in Seoul for the inconvenience caused by the detention and trial of Lee Jae-yon, Samsung’s de facto President, and stressed that the company did not break the law, Efe news reported.

In statements reported by the Korea Herald, he said the contribution at the centre of the controversy surrounding the company was made to help a public interest issue but was used for a different purpose, and the decision did not require the Board of Directors or the management’s approval.

The contribution refers to the 43 billion won ($38.3 million) donated to two foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, known as the South Korean “Rasputin” for her proximity to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was impeached on the March 10 following the scandal.

The public prosecutor’s office believes the payments were made in exchange for the South Korean public pension fund authorising a merger of two Samsung subsidiaries (one of which was owned by the fund) in 2015 to reinforce Lee’s control over the group.

Lee was detained in February on the basis of these accusations and his trial began on March 9, with a ruling expected in May.

Lee, 48, is the de-facto President of Samsung, the largest South Korean business group, which accounts for one-fifth of the country’s GDP.

He took charge of the firm in 2014 after his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack.

Despite the significant challenges that Samsung Electronics suffered last year, such as the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco or Lee’s arrest, the company’s shares have been touching record high after it announced a restructuring of its management in November.