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Samsung heir refuses to testify at former president's corruption trial

His lawyers have urged him not to, saying it may hurt his defense in his own bribery trial, reports Bloomberg.

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-Yong Arrives At Court

Jay Y. Lee has decided not to testify in the trial of South Korea's former president.  

Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

Five months after his arrest, Samsung heir apparent Jay Y. Lee is refusing to testify at the corruption trial of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye. He's concerned that testifying may affect his own bribery hearings, according to Bloomberg

Arrested under a bribery charge in February, Lee is accused of giving millions to Geun-hye. Donations were allegedly made to foundations controlled by the former president's close friend Choi Soon-sil in exchange for her approving a controversial merger. His trial began in March.

"My honest intention is to earnestly answer questions in court in order to unveil the truth," Lee said to the judge, reports the publication, "but I cannot do so, according to my lawyers' advice." 

Samsung is one of many companies accused of being part of a Choi and Geun-hye's corruption, a scandal that led to the latter's impeachment. The trial has also lead to questions about Samsung's succession plan, with Lee taking control of the company in 2014 after his father, Kun-Hee Lee, suffered a heart attack and was hospitalised. 

The 2015 merger of Samsung's C&T construction and trading business and its Cheil Industries chemicals business helped solidify the Lee family's hold on Samsung Group. The merger was polarising among shareholders and the South Korean pension fund, which held an 11.6 percent stake in Samsung C&T and a 5 percent stake in Cheil Industries, was key in it getting approved. Lee is accused of donating millions of dollars to two foundations run by Choi in exchange for South Korea's pension fund backing the merger. 

Samsung has said it made the payments to Choi's foundations but denied they were made in exchange for political favors. Choi has denied taking any part in the merger, while Lee has testified that he didn't play a role in Samsung's decision to make $17 million in donations to Choi.  

Samsung was contacted for comment but did not immediately respond. 

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