Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong was indicted on Tuesday for his role in a controversial merger and alleged accounting frauds. Prosecutors charged Lee, the vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, with unfair trading, stock manipulation, breach of trust in relation to the 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates

It is seen as a key step toward his succession, and alleged accounting fraud at the pharmaceutical unit of Samsung Biologics, reports Yonhap News Agency. Ten other former and incumbent Samsung executives were also indicted on similar charges.

Samsung in SM Aura, Bonifacio Global City Wikimedia Commons

Need to Resolve Public Suspicions

The investigation team led by senior prosecutor Lee Bok-hyun said in a statement that they reached a conclusion that judicial judgment is necessary in the case, given "the clear-cut facts supported by evidence, the gravity of the case and the need to resolve the public's suspicions surrounding the case".

Suspected of Participation

Prosecutors suspect that Lee was involved in a company-wide scheme to plan the merger of Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung C&T and fraud in a way to take over control of the country's biggest conglomerate from his ailing father, Lee Kun-hee, who suffered a heart attack in 2014.

He is also suspected of being part of the alleged plan to inflate the value of Samsung Bioepis, a joint venture between Samsung Biologics, a subsidiary of Cheil Industries, and the US-based Biogen Inc. Lee has consistently denied the allegations since the investigation started in November 2018.