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Independent Counsel Team Raids Samsung Headquarters, Chairman’s Home

Independent Counsel Team Raids Samsung Headquarters, Chairman’s Home

Posted January. 16, 2008 22:16,   


An independent counsel team led by the prosecutor, Cho Joon-woong, raided Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee`s home in Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, and Samsung Group`s headquarters in Taepyeongno, Jung-gu yesterday.

Chairman Lee’s home and the group’s headquarters along with Lee’s private office, Seungjiwon, had been an off-limit to prosecutors for investigation.

▽ Prosecutors Fail to Find the “Secret Safe”

The independent counsel raided offices under the group’s strategic planning division yesterday. The division has allegedly played a key role in amassing slush funds, illegally transferring management right, and conducting bribery to politicians and government officials. The outcome of the raid of the division drew particular attention due to its status in the group.

The management assistance department under the strategy assistance team on the 27th floor, along with the “Chairman’s office second team,” is known to manage the chairman’s private assets.

The strategy assistance team is headed by the president Kim In-joo whose private residence was searched by the counsel on Sunday. The prosecution also raided homes of several employees under Kim’s control, including vice president, Choi Kwang-hae, in charge of the management assistance.

Samsung’s whistleblower and the former Group’s lawyer, Kim Young-chul, claimed that the secret safe is cached behind a wall of an office on the 27th floor. The investigator searched offices in every nook and corner but failed to find the safe.

▽ Confiscated Articles From Employees May Provide Clues

Although the independent counsel was reluctant to reveal the outcome of the raids which continued for two consecutive days, it is expecting to obtain substantial evidence from the raids.

Immediately after the search on Seungjiwon and the headquarters, however, the word has spread that the investigators came out empty-handed since the group already hid the evidence.

Samsung had enough time to take necessary measures to conceal evidence since three months have passed since Kim Yong-chul blew the whistle on the conglomerate’s alleged raising of slush funds and seven to eight years have passed since the “Everland” scandal.

Though the independent counsel has been aware of the fact, it went ahead with the raids to secure a scrap of evidence, observers say.

The independent counsel copied the computer hard drives when it raided offices and private residences of the employees and executives concerning that the copied files can be damaged, reducing the reliability as evidence.

▽ The Investigation Continues as Scheduled

Although the unprecedented raids were said to fall short of the expectation, the independent counsel didn’t budge to the rumor.

It continued to track bank accounts under the 150 former and incumbent employees obtained from investigations carried out throughout last year. Related figures can be summoned earlier than expected depending on the progress of the investigation.

The independent counsel is also reported to extend its investigation to another allegation on an illegal transfer of wealth from Lee Kun-hee to his son, Lee Jae-yong.

verso@donga.com dnsp@donga.com