Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong denies bribery charges at hearing

Lee is "the biggest beneficiary who reaped enormous profits", said special prosecutor Yang Jae-sik, according to a media pool report.

Samsung Electronics expects consolidated first quarter sales of approximately 50 trillion Korean won and operating profit of 9.8 to 10 trillion won.

The company surprised analysts in January when it predicted a similar rise in earnings for the final quarter of 2016, even though operating profits for its smartphone division had plummeted by 98% in the third quarter alone as the Note 7 fiasco took hold. An issue that caused Samsung's own Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee to be arrested and he is now facing charges for bribing their former president Park Geun-hye.

Kim Yong-Gu of Hana Financial Investment Co. said investors were also concerned that IT and automakers would be most affected if the United States report on foreign currencies due next week adds to United States pressure on South Korea to reduce its trade surplus.

Lee Jae-yong, the 48-year-old boss of Samsung Group, could spend more than 20 years in jail if convicted on all charges, including one that he pledged 43 billion won (US$35.3 million) in bribes to foundations backed by impeached president Park Geun-hye and her confidant, Choi Soon-sil.

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The bright first quarter outlook came just hours before Samsung's vice chairman and de facto leader Jay Y. Lee was due in court on Friday, marking his first appearance in a trial where he and four other company executives face charges of bribery, embezzlement, perjury and hiding assets overseas, among others. Lee, who was arrested in February, has been charged with paying almost $40 million to the now-impeached president's close friend Choi Soon-Sil, allegedly as bribes to secure policy favours.

The success of Samsung's semiconductor business can be put down to strong demand for its DRAM and NAND flash memory chips from Chinese smartphone makers, which are now rolling out flagship models with up to 6 gigabytes of RAM.

Data from IHS Markit showed Samsung was the dominant market player in both DRAM and NAND flash memory businesses last quarter. The chip business has been reportedly doing well and contributing the lion's share to the revenue. (STAND UP) Lee was indicted at the end of February, and by law the district court must rule on the case by the end of May.

Millions of South Koreans taking part in weekly street rallies demanding Park's removal have also called for the arrest of the tycoons involved in the scandal, including the leaders of Hyundai, SK and Lotte.

  • Regina Walsh