June 29, 2020 08:42
An independent panel has concluded that prosecutors' investigation of Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong over his massive fiddle to take over the conglomerate has gone too far and advised against indicting him again.
The panel of experts was assembled after a citizen's panel agreed to accept Lee's application for a public review of prosecutors' investigation early this month.
The panel's decision is not binding but could take some of the heat off the convicted felon at the helm of Korea's biggest business.
The prosecution had been pursuing any number of angles to probe the fiddle, from accounting fraud to the bribery charges of which Lee has already been convicted. Thirteen of the 14 experts were of the opinion that the investigation has gone too far.
The panel originally had of 15 members but, Yang Chang-soo, a former chief justice, recused himself due to personal connections with one of the suspects.
The panel reviewed opinions from both sides, Samsung and the prosecution, all of which were detailed in a 50-page document followed by presentations. Lee himself was not present.
Lee and two of his top aides are accused of wrongdoing in a controversial merger in 2015 between two Samsung affiliates -- Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T -- in order to give Lee control of the whole behemoth through its Byzantine holding structure after his father fell into a coma.
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