Businesses cozying up to the government is a chronic problem in Korean society, and it has now shaken the global conglomerate Samsung.
Some point out that, in such an outdated environment, Korean firms find it hard to remain free from political power.
Nam Hyun-ho has more.
As each layer of the Choi Soon-sil gate comes off, the bare nature of the close relationship between businesses and the government is also being exposed.
The money that 53 companies paid to Mir and K Sports amounts to 77.4 billion won.
A sum of anywhere between a few hundred million and 20 billion won was collected instantly.
However, an increasing number of testimonies and evidence point to how political power pressured companies in the process of the money being delivered to the family of Choi Soon-sil.
Vice CEO Lee Jae-yong of Samsung Electronics, against whom an arrest warrant was requested for bribery charges of about 43 billion won, was reported to have given the same testimony to the special prosecutors.
In the December hearing, Lee strongly denied that the money was paid in return for any favors.
<Lee Jae-yong / Vice CEO of Samsung Electronics> “We have never given money or provided support in return for any favors or benefits.”
Businesses agree that the close business-government relationship should be eliminated, but some point out that under Korea’s political system, it is difficult for companies to say no to the requests of the politically powerful, who controls judicial institutions.
It is said that even for Samsung, a global conglomerate who constitutes 20 percent of Korea’s exports, severing the ties with the government was hard.
<Shin Seok-hoon / Chief Corporation Researcher at Korea Economic Research Institute> “Everybody agrees in principle (with severing business-government ties), but companies’ efforts alone have clear limitations…”
As the special prosecution views donations to foundations as bribery, other corporate donors are also paying close attention to the court’s decision on Lee.
Nam Hyun-ho reporting for Yonhap News TV.
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