The corruption scandal engulfing South Korea has ensnared the country’s largest company. On Jan. 18, Samsung’s de facto chief, Lee Jae-yong, appeared in court after being accused of bribing impeached President Park Geun-hye and one of her confidantes. Although the judge declined to detain Lee, legal experts say he will likely face charges. Here are the key figures in the ongoing scandal:
The Samsung scion is accused of paying $36 million to organizations linked to Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of Park’s. In return, the Park government allegedly supported a controversial merger that helped Lee tighten his control of Samsung. Lee admits making the payments but denies seeking favors in return. The merger allegedly cost his firm’s pension fund $300 million.
PRESIDENT PARK GEUN-HYE
Lawmakers voted to impeach Park in December after it emerged that she had allowed Choi to tweak speeches and advise on government policy. She came to power promising to rein in the chaebol, the influential South Korean family conglomerates of which Samsung is the largest. She denies criminal conduct.
The daughter of a shaman-like cult leader who was close to Park’s parents, she allegedly claimed to talk with Park’s late mother from beyond the grave. Prosecutors claim foundations run by Choi wrested almost $70 million from chaebol including Samsung, LG and Hyundai. She has been indicted on charges of extortion.
This appears in the January 30, 2017 issue of TIME.
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