(LEAD) Samsung heir summoned as suspect in bribery probe
(ATTN: ADDS more details, Samsung's reaction in last 5 paras)
SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Yonhap) -- A special investigation team looking into an influence-peddling scandal centered on President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend has summoned Samsung's heir apparent over allegations the group gave undue financial support to the confidante in return for business-related favors, its spokesman said Wednesday.
Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., was called in to undergo questioning as a suspect on charges of bribery on Thursday at 9:30 a.m., spokesman Lee Kyu-chul told a regular press briefing.
Samsung Group allegedly struck a 22 billion-won (US$18.3 million) contract with a Germany-based company owned by Park's jailed friend Choi Soon-sil and her daughter under the name of a consulting arrangement to fund the daughter's equestrian training.
Investigators here are looking into suspicions that the contract was signed in return for the state-run pension fund's backing of a major merger deal between Samsung subsidiaries in 2015. There have been allegations that the state fund was pressured by the presidential office to support the merger in return for favors Samsung gave to Choi.
The special counsel spokesman said, "All possibilities are open," when asked whether they could seek a warrant to arrest the business tycoon.
On Tuesday, the investigation team said it has secured a tablet PC allegedly used by Choi that contains information related to Samsung's funding to her company. This is the second tablet PC linked to Choi to have surfaced.
"There are nearly a hundred emails stored on the recently submitted tablet PC," spokesman Lee said. "They are mostly about how Core Sports International was established, the way it received funding from Samsung and how the money has been spent in Germany." Core Sports International is Choi's company.
The Samsung scion was interrogated by state prosecutors in November before they handed over the case to the special probe team.
A Samsung Group spokesman declined to comment on the matter.
This undated file photo shows the main office of Samsung Electronics Co. in southern Seoul (Yonhap)