Samsung’s de facto head Lee Jae-Yong has gone on trial in South Korea on charges of bribery.
The case is linked to a massive scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Samsung is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Ms Park, in exchange for government favours.
Mr Lee, the Samsung group and four other Samsung executives who are also on trial all deny wrongdoing.
Mr Lee did not appear in person on the opening day of the trial in the capital, Seoul, the trial is expected to go on for several months. Mr Lee, also known as Jay Y Lee, is currently vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics.
But since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, he is considered de facto boss of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.
Prosecutors have accused Mr. Lee of giving donations worth forty one billion naira to Organisations linked to Ms Park’s close friend Ms Choi.
They alleged this was done to win government support for a big restructuring of Samsung that would help a smooth leadership transition in favour of Mr Lee, who is standing in as chairman for his ill father.
The controversial merger required support from the national pension fund the allegation is that this support was granted in return for the donations.
In a December parliamentary hearing, Samsung admitted giving a total of twenty point four billion won to two foundations, but denied seeking favours in return.