A South Korean special prosecutor's office will question Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee as a suspect in a widening influence-peddling scandal that may force President Park Geun-hye from office. Fred Katayama reports.
The head of South Korea's biggest business group is accustomed to being under a big spotlight. This development might make the glare a little too strong. Jay Y. Lee's been summoned for questioning by prosecutors on Thursday. The Samsung Group leader now a suspect in a widening influence-peddling scandal. (SOUNDBITE) (Korean) SAMSUNG GROUP HEIR APPARENT AND VICE CHAIRMAN OF SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS, JAY Y. LEE, SAYING: "I admit that the deal was done in an inappropriate way and regret that I didn't look into it more thoroughly." That statement in December came with denials of any wrongdoing. But prosecutors want to know whether Samsung paid 25 million dollars to win government backing for an 8 billion dollar merger deal. The payment itself going to organizations run by the woman at the center of the scandal, Choi Soon-sil - whose association with South Korea's President Park is likely to lead to her removal from office. Lee's arrest hasn't been ruled out. But shares in the group's flagship Samsung Electronics ended the day 2.8 per cent up. Investors pointing to Lee's father Lee Kun-hee at the top of a long list of Korean business leaders who've emerged from legal troubles - with their fortunes still intact.