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Samsung accused of using slush funds

06 ноября 2007

A former head of Samsung ’s legal affairs team on Monday urged prosecutors to investigate allegations that South Korea’s biggest conglomerate maintained slush funds for lobbying politicians, government officials and public prosecutors.

Samsung accused of using slush fundsKim Yong-chul, chief of the group’s legal team for about two years until 2004, claimed each of Samsung’s affiliates created billions of won of slush funds and managed them in its executives’ banks accounts. Samsung denied the allegations.

Mr Kim said that about Won5bn ($5.5m) had been held in bank and brokerage accounts under his name, which he says he had not known about until recently. He claimed Samsung had established about 1,000 bank accounts for slush funds under the names of former and current executives.

Mr Kim claimed that Samsung used the slush funds to lobby finance ministry and national tax office officials and prosecutors.

He said he had documents showing that Lee Jae-yong, the son of Samsung’s chairman Lee Kun-hee, illegally amassed assets and that Samsung fabricated witnesses’ statements for the 2005 Samsung Everland trial. Both deny any wrongdoing.

In that case, Her Tae-hak and Park Ro-bin, the former and current presidents of Samsung Everland – Samsung’s de facto holding company – were found guilty of illegally aiding Samsung’s family ownership transfer by helping Mr Lee’s children to buy convertible bonds issued by Samsung Everland at a big discount.

“I really repent for being an accomplice. I wish that Samsung will be reborn as a healthy [group] and chaebol [conglomerates] should not pollute the country, the society and the legal system any more,” Mr Kim said at a news conference.

Mr Kim attended the news conference with the Catholic Priests’ Association for Justice, which he had initially approached with the claims.

Samsung issued a 25-page statement saying Mr Kim’s bank account was created with his agreement to manage the assets of a third person unrelated to the group or founding family.

Samsung said the group complied with international accounting standards and was not involved in illegal book-keeping. It said it had never bribed prosecutors or judges or fabricated witness statements in the Everland case.

“The group has reacted to Mr Kim’s one-sided claims with the utmost leniency and patience, but his wrong disclosures are feared to damage the group’s image and to dent its business activities,” Samsung said in a statement.

Chung Dong-young, a presidential candidate from the ruling party, called for a special investigation. Prosecutors said they would make a decision after reviewing reports and documents related to the allegations.

The group has been one of the drivers of South Korea’s industrialisation but it has been accused of seeking to transform the country into the “republic of Samsung”.

Источник: Financial Times

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