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Samsung chief questioned over Park corruption scandal

The head of the tech giant could face bribery charges as part of a scandal surrounding South Korea's leader. Police allege controversial business deals were linked to huge donations paid to President Park Geun-hye.

Dozens of protesters greeted Lee Jae-Yong, who is chairman of Samsung Electronics, as he arrived at the office of South Korea's special prosecutor in Seoul on Thursday.

The group waved banners and chanted "arrest Lee immediately," accusing him of being a "co-culprit" in the scandal that has seen President Park Geun-Hye temporarily removed from office.

On Wednesday, local media said Lee would be questioned in connection with allegations of bribery and committing perjury during a parliamentary hearing last month into the affair.

Lee's arrest 'likely'

South Korea's Yonhap news agency later cited an unidentified investigator as saying that the chances of Lee being formally arrested were "high."

Lee has been questioned for months along with other senior Samsung officials over allegations that electronics' giant had paid bribes to Park's secret confidante Choi Soon-Sil, which she used for her private benefit.

Samsung was the biggest contributor to her two non-profit foundations. It is also accused of separately giving millions of euros to Choi to bankroll her daughter's equestrian training in Germany in a bid to curry favor.

Südkorea Rede von Präsidentin Park Geun-Hye (picture-alliance/dpa/Jeon Heon-Kyun)

The Supreme Court has until June to decide whether President Park Geun-Hye should permanently leave office

Prosecutors also want to uncover whether Samsung paid 30 billion won ($25.28 million, 23.8 million euros) in bribes in order to win state approval for a controversial merger of two its units in 2015.

Park could become South Korea's first democratically elected leader to leave office early after parliament voted in December to impeach her over a wider corruption scandal. Park has denied any wrongdoing, but has apologized.

Choi, in jail since late October, is currently on trial charged with abuse of power, attempted fraud and bribery. She has plead not guilty

The 48-year-old Lee took over as leader of the country's biggest conglomerate after his father, founding family patriarch Lee Kun-hee, was incapacitated by a May 2014 heart attack.

Watch video 00:19

South Korea political scandal takes new twist

mm/es (AFP, Reuters)

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