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(LEAD) Samsung heir Lee faces another investigation over alleged propofol use

National 22:52 March 11, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more info in last 3 paras)

SUWON, South Korea, March 11 (Yonhap) -- Lee Jae-yong, the imprisoned de facto leader of Samsung Group, is under investigation over an allegation that he took propofol shots illegally, police said Thursday.

The Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency said they were looking into the accusation made against Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., that he illegally used the anesthesia drug at a plastic surgery clinic in Seoul last year, but refused to provide further details on the ongoing case.

The police are said to have visited Lee, who is imprisoned in the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, south of the capital, last month to take a hair sample from him for drug testing.

Lee is currently serving a 2 1/2-year prison term for bribing impeached former President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to win government support for a smooth father-to-son transfer of managerial power at Samsung.

This Jan. 18, 2021, photo shows Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., heading to the Seoul High Court to attend a sentencing hearing for a high-profile bribery case. (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics Co. said that Lee only took propofol shots for medical purposes and that the police have not corroborated the allegation against him.

Early last year, a similar accusation was filed against Lee with the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission that he regularly used propofol at another plastic surgery clinic in Seoul.

The case has been referred to the Supreme Prosecutors Office.

Lee also denied the allegation at that time and requested the case to be reviewed by an independent committee consisting of outside experts to see whether the prosecution's investigation is legitimate.

Later in the day, the prosecution accepted Lee's request and decided to convene the committee to review whether the case warrants an official investigation.

The prosecution introduced the outside review system in 2018 to enhance the neutrality and fairness of cases that are of great public interest.

The external panel can recommend whether the prosecution should or should not indict suspects of interest, though it is not legally binding.


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