Samsung accused of massive bribery plot

Samsung accused of massive bribery plot

Network of government, legal and journalist pay offs alleged

New allegations of bribery by Samsung have emerged, after a presidential aide went public with claims that the company tried to bribe him.

Lee Yong-chul, who has also been a presidential monitor against corruption in South Korea, told local media that he had been offered 5 million won ($5,445) in January 2004 by the company as a 'holiday gift' by a Samsung executive. He photographed the package and then immediately returned it.

“I was outraged by Samsung’s brazenness, by its attempt to bribe a presidential aide in charge of fighting corruption,” Mr. Lee said in a written statement.

The allegations will add weight to claims from Samsung's former chief lawyer Kim Yong-chul that bribery is rife in the South Korean conglomerate. Kim Yong-chul is claiming that the company has a large network of government officials, politicians, journalists and academics in its pay.

James Chung, a spokesman for Samsung, told the New York Times, “We are trying to find out the facts around these allegations.”

The government is facing calls for an independent prosecutor to be appointed to investigate the issue, after Kim claimed that president’s new chief prosecutor, Lim Chai-jin was one of the people who had received money from Samsung. Legislation is now being enacted to appoint someone independent.

He also named the head of anti-corruption activities and the head of the Central Investigation Bureau as recipients of money – claims both have denied.

The claims have caused a storm of outrage in South Korea, where Samsung's success is a source of considerable national pride. Civic groups have formed a pressure group, ' National Movement to Unveil Illegal Activities by Samsung and Its Chairman' to force action on the matter.

“This is proof that Samsung’s bribery has reached not only prosecutors but the very core of political power, the Blue House,” the group said at the news conference.