SEOUL, South Korea – Samsung Group created a $215 million slush fund to bribe influential figures, a former company attorney said Monday, adding details to previous allegations of corruption at South Korea’s biggest conglomerate.
Samsung immediately denied claims by Kim Yong-chul, who held the company’s top legal affairs position from 1997-2004. Samsung said it is considering legal action against Kim.
“It’s nothing but a repeat of false, distorted and exaggerated claims,” the company said.
Kim went public earlier this month with allegations that Samsung raised a slush fund to bribe prosecutors, judges and lawmakers. His claims Monday were the first to detail the amount of the alleged fund and how it was created.
A former prosecutor himself, Kim said Monday that Samsung used Samsung Corp. – its trading arm – to create the pool of money through intricate contracts with other group affiliates.
He said family members of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee used $65 million from the fund to buy artwork.
Kim also disclosed the names of Samsung executives he says managed the slush fund with their bank accounts.
The National Assembly approved legislation Friday to open an independent investigation into Kim’s allegations, saying a probe already launched by prosecutors is compromised by Kim’s claims that some – including the nation’s new top prosecutor – took bribes.