The tech giant is experiencing yet another major crisis after being implicated in a government corruption investigation, following the recall of exploding Galaxy Note smartphones and faulty washing machines. All products were officially recalled by regulators after major safety concerns.
Back home in South Korea, Samsung is the biggest national employer, which is now in the center of a huge scandal, with the company’s offices being searched by prosecutors who investigate a confidante of President Park Geun-hye. The company is suspected of secretly funding dressage training for the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, Park’s friend of 40 years. Samsung allegedly gave $3.1m to a company that Choi owned in Europe, and now the investigators are looking into whether Choi interfered in the nomination of senior officials and forced companies to donate money to not-for-profit foundations. According to media reports, Park was trying to defuse the situation, granting lawmakers the power to name her new PM – a move considered a major political concession. In the meantime, she told that she would ditch her own nominee and accept a deputy appointed by the opposition-controlled legislature.
A few days ago, 8 banks were raided, and now the raid on Samsung’s offices could spur a backlash against the tech firm. Investigators will summon the executives from several tech firms for questioning, in order to find out whether they made any deals to resolve any pending business issues with President Park in exchange for the donations.
It must be noted that it is not the first time Samsung HQ have been raided – for example, 8 years ago, they were searched over the allegations Samsung created slush funds to bribe officials. Industry experts believe that the tech giant has become an embarrassment to the country, where saving face is still a factor in reputation management. Apparently, the company’s board of directors now has to firmly take charge of Samsung’s direction.
In the meantime, family-owned conglomerates that have helped transform Korea into an economic powerhouse have a reputation for exerting an enormous influence over the government. Samsung Group is the biggest of such conglomerates, as it accounts for about 20% of the Korea’s gross domestic product.