Samsung group's heir, Jay Y Lee, was questioned on Tuesday by prosecutors about a controversial 2015 merger and alleged accounting fraud that they said could have helped him advance his succession planning agenda in the country's top conglomerate.
The survey raises new legal problems for Lee, who is already on trial for bribery to gain support for the successor to ailing group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, in which former South Korean President Park Geun-hye was involved.
Prosecutors have investigated suspected accounting fraud at pharmaceutical company Samsung Biologics after the Korean finance guard complained that the company's value increased by 4.5 trillion won ($ 3.64 billion) in 2015.
They claimed that Biologics violated accounting regulations to add value to its main owner, Cheil Industries, who had Lee as its main shareholder, said the Yonhap News Agency, which first reported on Lee's survey.
Cheil, the Samsung Group's fashion and theme park operator, merged with de facto group holding company Samsung C & T in 2015 and enabled Lee to become the main shareholder of Samsung C & T.
The deal has been criticized by US hedge fund Elliott Management and other investors for favoring family members at the expense of minority shareholders.
The prosecutor confirmed that Lee was summoned for questioning.
"We have been subpoenaing a relevant person today regarding the Samsung Group's illegal merger and accounting fraud case," an official from the Seoul Central District Procuratorate told Reuters.
A spokesman for Samsung Electronics, the largest conglomerate company in which Lee is vice chairman, declined to comment.
Lee, 51, served a one-year prison term for bribery until he was suspended in 2018. However, the possibility of a harsher sentence came after the Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision on the case last year.
Earlier this month, Lee apologized for the bribery scandal and promised not to pass the company founded by his grandfather on to his children. However, it was criticized by governance experts for the lack of details.
"There is still a lot of controversy surrounding his management succession. He won't be able to avoid public criticism," said Park Ju-gun, director of the research firm CEO Score.
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