A senior executive at Samsung has denied receiving favors for donations to scandal-linked foundations. More than 50 corporate groups donated to foundations belonging to the president’s longtime confidant.
South Korean lawmakers on Tuesday questioned the heads of the country’s top conglomerates, including Samsung, Hyundai Motor and six other companies, about their involvement in a political scandal rocking the presidency.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong said that while President Park Geun-hye had asked him to support cultural and sports-related developments during a one-on-one meeting, there had been no request for financial aid.
“There are many things that I feel embarrassed about and I regret as we have disappointed the public with many disgraceful things,” Lee said.
“There are often requests from various parts of society, including for culture and sports. We have never contributed seeking quid pro quo. His case was the same,” he added.
Park’s presidency has been disgraced by a influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime confidant Choi Soon-sil, who prosecutors charged in November with influencing state affairs and directing funds to two non-profit foundations she used for personal gain
At least 53 corporate groups donated to the foundations, with Samsung being the largest donor, providing 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million, 16.24 million euros) to the two foundations.
The hearing marked a rare moment for the country’s most powerful business leaders, who rarely participate in such public events.
Meanwhile, Park is expected to face an impeachment vote on Friday after several weeks of mass protests in the capital. If she steps down, she will be the first South Korea president to do so since the country’s democratic reforms in the 1980s.
Since the scandal erupted in October, Park has witnessed her approval ratings slide to an all-time low of four percent.