All three suspects who made sex videos will be of Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee face prosecution, according to prosecutors Wednesday.
Police had detained a former employee of CJ CheilJedang, surnamed Seon, 56, his brother, 46, and another accomplice surnamed Lee, 38, for allegedly recording the videos without Lee Kun-hee’s consent.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office started looking into the case following a media report in July 2016 that Lee Kun-hee paid sex workers for their services between December 2011 and June 2013 at his private residence in southern Seoul.
As evidence, online news outlet Newstapa disclosed video clips, in which a man who looks like the business tycoon is giving money to young women.
Prosecutors suspect the three conspired with a Chinese woman, known only as J, to make “backdoor deals” with Samsung.
Reportedly, investigators have confirmed the suspects received about 500 million won ($440,000) from the company by threatening to release the videos.
But Samsung denied the allegation, claiming it rejected the suspects’ extortion threats.
If the prosecution finds evidence of the alleged transaction between the suspects and Samsung, they can also be indicted on charges of blackmail.
Meanwhile, the prosecution is investigating whether CJ Group was involved in orchestrating the taping, given that Lee Maeng-hee, the late CJ Group honorary chairman, was in dispute with his brother Lee Kun-hee over their inheritance from their father at that time.
CJ, the nation’s 14th-largest company known for its food and entertainment businesses, was part of Samsung Group until it broke off in 1993.
The company has denied involvement, claiming Seon made the tapes without the company’s knowledge. It also noted he resigned immediately after he was detained.
“The crime has nothing to do with the company,” CJ said earlier. “The suspects asked us to pay for the video clips, but we refused.”
On Monday, prosecutors searched four CJ offices over the allegations of its involvement.
The prosecution is also looking into whether Lee Kun-hee indeed was guilty of sex trafficking as suspected and, if so, whether Samsung was involved in aiding it.
Lee Kun-hee has been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack in May 2014. So the matter is more about his and the company’s reputations rather than a possible conviction.
His son, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, has led Samsung since his father fell ill.
The younger Lee was arrested last month for involvement in a corruption scandal that ousted former President Park Geun-hye.