CJ offices raided in probe into compromising videos of Samsung chief

Suzy Kim, March 13, 2017, 10:03 a.m.

Prosecutors on Monday raided some offices of the country's food and entertainment conglomerate CJ after one of its former employees was found to have been involved in producing compromising video clips of Samsung Electronics Co. Chairman Lee Kun-hee's private life.

In July 2016, Newstapa, an online news outlet run by the Korea Center for Investigative Journalism, unveiled the videos and reported that the business tycoon paid money to suspected sex workers five times between December 2011 and June 2013 at his houses in southern Seoul. In the video clips, conversations between a man, who appears to be Lee, and the women indicate some sort of sexual services were transacted between them.

Late last month, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office arrested a 56-year-old former employee at a CJ affiliate, surnamed Seon, on charges of orchestrating the recording of the video clips. Prosecutors reportedly confiscated business logs of employees and computer hard drives from the offices. They are known to be looking into whether the conglomerate was involved in recording the video clips.

CJ, run by Lee's relatives, was part of Samsung Group before it was separated in 1993. At the time of the recording, the two groups were involved in a dispute over assets left by Lee's father Lee Byung-chull, who founded the group.

CJ Group has flatly denied its involvement in the alleged irregularities, saying Seon resigned after he was arrested. "It is a crime of a former employee that has nothing to do with the company," CJ earlier said. "The group who made the clips asked us to buy them, but we rejected the offer." 

Prosecutors are looking into whether the suspect, who allegedly ordered the women to videotape Lee, blackmailed Samsung Group for money. They will also investigate if prostitution actually took place and if so, whether Samsung was involved in the process. 

Lee has been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack. His son and de facto leader of the group Lee Jae-yong has been taken into custody over allegations of bribery in connection with a corruption scandal implicating former President Park Geun-hye and her friend. 

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