News Mar 02, 2017 12:59 AM EST

Samsung chief faces trial after indictment on corruption charges

By Joyce C. Abaño

South Korean prosecutors have indicted Samsung's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong, de facto chief of the giant South Korean conglomerate, on multiple charges which include bribery and embezzlement.

Four other executives at Samsung were also charged with bribery and other crimes. Three of them resigned on Tuesday after the announcement.

Lee's and the other four executives' case is tied to the political corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of the country's president Park Geun-hye.

The technology giant's vice chair was arrested on Feb. 17 over his alleged role in that scandal and has been in custody since.

Samsung has been accused of giving 41 billion won or $36 million in money and favors to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Park's. It was alleged this was supposed to secure government support of a merger deal between two Samsung affiliates in 2015, support for the restructuring that would help a smooth transition of leadership in favor of Lee.

The prosecutors are accusing Lee of bribery, perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

Samsung and Lee denied the allegations.

The electronics giant has said it has shut down its corporate strategy office amid accusations of bribery. The corporate strategy office coordinates plan for the conglomerate's various businesses.

According to a statement from Samsung, three of the top group executives include vice chair Choi Gee-sung and president Chang Choong-ki.

The electronics giant has mentioned it will try to clear Lee's name at trial, but did not make comments immediately during his indictment on Tuesday. It is part of the system in South Korea that when a suspect was formally arrested, an indictment follows automatically, unless an evidence would emerge that would prove the person's innocence.

Lee, 48, has been running the company since his father had a heart attack in 2014.

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