SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA —
Samsung lawyers denied Thursday all charges brought against Lee Jae-yong, the billionaire heir to Samsung, in a massive corruption scandal that has ensnared the country’s president.
Lee’s lawyers told a court that prosecutors are unfairly trying to create an impression Lee is guilty by mentioning a past conviction of his father and by depicting Lee as having absolute control over a strategy office that allegedly engaged in bribery.
The 48-year-old Samsung Electronics vice chairman was arrested and indicted last month on bribery, embezzlement and three other charges that could entail at least five years in prison if he’s proven guilty.
Four other Samsung executives also have been charged. They were not at Thursday’s preliminary hearing.
Prosecutors believe Lee and his aides used Samsung corporate funds to bribe President Park Geun-hye and one of her close friends in exchange for supporting a smooth leadership transition at Samsung.
Samsung gave or promised to give 43.3 billion won ($38 million) to four entities controlled by Park’s friend. Prosecutors allege the money was given to obtain government backing for a contentious merger of two Samsung companies in 2015 that served as a key step in passing corporate control to Lee from his ailing father.
Lee is the highest profile figure arrested during the probe on the influence-peddling scandal that also led to indictment of former presidential aides and dozens others.
The Constitutional Court is to announce a final ruling Friday on whether to remove or reinstate Park after the parliament voted in December to impeach her.