+ A

Probe examines possible blackmail of Samsung

Mar 16,2017
Prosecutors are investigating whether CJ blackmailed Samsung with the video recording allegedly of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, they announced on Monday after reportedly finding out Samsung paid a CJ employee hundreds of millions of won.

A man surnamed Sun, who allegedly orchestrated the recording of the video, was arrested last month. He is a former employee at CJ Cheil Jedang, an affiliate of the conglomerate CJ Group, and is reported to have been a close aide to Lee Maeng-hee, late honorary chairman of CJ Group and older brother of Lee Kun-hee, though the conglomerate denied this in a statement.

The video footage released in July by Newstapa, a media outlet run by the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism, shows a man who appears to be Lee Kun-hee and involves conversations that indicate some sort of sexual services were arranged for the man. The clip was recorded from December 2011 to June 2013.

Prosecutors found traces of transactions from Samsung to Sun that amount to some 300 million won ($262,330), sent in the middle of 2013.

While CJ Group denied having been involved in the recording, prosecutors suspect CJ may have had a hand in blackmailing Samsung with the video because the timing of the filming corresponds with the time when Samsung’s Lee Kun-hee was mired in a lawsuit against Lee Maeng-hee over inheritance left behind by their father and founder of the Samsung Group, Lee Byung-chul. Lee Maeng-hee died of cancer in 2015.

CJ used to be part of Samsung, but parted ways in 1993.

Samsung also denied having been involved in the transaction. It is reported to have told Newstapa that it was “once blackmailed [with the video] but didn’t succumb to the threats because they were rubbish.”

On Monday, prosecutors raided the offices of CJ Hellovision, a broadcasting affiliate of CJ and CJ Logistics. In looking for traces of how much CJ Group may have been involved in the recording, prosecutors will also seek evidence of where the 300 million won from Samsung came from, whether from Lee Kun-hee personally or from corporate funds.

Sun was indicted on Tuesday for violation of the Act on Special Cases Concerning the Punishment of Sexual Crimes. His accomplices, his brother and a man surnamed Lee, were also arrested.

Prosecutors say the three have orchestrated together the filming of the video by paying young women who would reportedly visit Lee’s home for sexual services.

Sun and his accomplices’ offices were raided, too.

But Sun reportedly burned his cell phone in a microwave before the raid. Prosecutors are investigating whether there were other attempts by the CJ Group to conceal or destroy evidences.

BY LEE TAE-YUN, LEE JEE-SANG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]