South Korean prosecutors raided Samsung Group offices on Wednesday. The company is currently under investigation in regards to corruption allegations and buying influence through the President’s confidant Ms Choi who has been indicted in an influence-peddling scandal. Last week top executives of the company were also called in for questioning from the Supreme Prosecutors Office.
The prosecutors also raided South Korea’s largest pension fund, National Pension Service (NPS). The investigators were looking into the NPS’s decision of approving the $8 billion merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries that happened last year. This merger since its inception has been part of several controversies.
Last year this deal was under the spotlight when nine Samsung executives from various affiliates were under investigation for insider trading. NPS’s recently has come under scrutiny by the media and civic groups over its approval as a major shareholder of the merger between two affiliates of Samsung Group.
The circumstances of NPS’s approval of the said merger has been marked as mysterious. The pension fund’s backing was a crucial element in the success of the agreement between the two companies, and it has defended its decision amid criticism that the deal helped the South Korea’s largest family-run conglomerate to cement control of the merged firms at the expense of other shareholders.
The senior prosecutor directing the inquest on Sunday said that 53 conglomerates, fearing the drawbacks of direct and indirect to business activities such as tax audits, were “coerced to contribute funds to the foundations. The prosecutors raided the NPS headquarters, NPS Investment Management office headquarters, Samsung Group offices and the office of a former NPS investment management official as part of their investigation.
President Park and her confidante Ms Choi have been under investigation for allegedly pressuring major conglomerates including Samsung Group to raise funds for the foundations that supported Park’s policy of promoting the cultural and sports communities.