Samsung chief denies all charges in bribery trial

South Koreans are calling it the "trial of the century." The head of Samsung Jay Y Lee faces bribery, corruption, perjury and other charges stemming from a scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Samsung Group chief Jay Y Lee arrives at the office of the independent counsel team in Seoul, South Korea, February 19, 2017.

Lawyers for Samsung chief Jay Y Lee have denied all charges on his behalf in a wide-ranging corruption scandal. Lee did not appear on day one of his trial, which got underway with the preparatory phase in the capital Seoul on Thursday.

Lee, 48, faces accusations of bribery, corruption, perjury and other offences stemming from a scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye.

Lee's defence argued that the prosecutors' formal indictment was sketchy, with some of the accusations lacking clear evidence and only circumstantial.

Lee is accused of paying nearly $40 million to Park's close friend Choi Soon-Sil as bribes to secure policy favours.

Samsung has maintained that the payments were charitable contributions it was obliged to make under pressure from officials, and not bribes.

Lee, who is being detained at the Seoul Detention Centre, did not attend court, as a defendant does not have to turn up during a preparatory hearing held to organise evidence and set dates for witness testimony.

Lawyers for defendants being tried with Lee also denied all charges.

The co-accused include former Samsung Group Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung, former Samsung Group President Chang Choong-ki and former Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin.

In the same scandal, South Korea's President Park Geun-hye had her powers suspended since her impeachment by parliament in December.

She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Should the Constitutional Court uphold the impeachment, she would become the country's first democratically elected president to be thrown out of office.

A decision on her fate is due on Friday.

TRTWorld and agencies