The independent counsel will add three new charges, including bribery.
The acting head of Samsung is to be indicted on bribery and embezzlement charges connected to a corruption and cronyism scandal centring on South Korea's impeached president, Park Geun-hye. Lee, the spokesman, said the case against President Park would be handed over to regular prosecutors with Park remaining a suspect, while signalling other conglomerates may also become involved in the investigation.
Samsung's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, was charged along with four company executives.
Samsung is a family-controlled company, in which leadership of the operation is inherited.
Tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets since the start of the corruption scandal, calling on President Park to step down. However, major business groups criticised the arrest, concerned about the impact on Samsung and, more broadly, on South Korea.
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Samsung is going through what seems to be its darkest period in a quite a while. The Washington Post reports that the company's spokeswoman Rhee So-eui referred to previous statements declaring that Samsung "has not paid bribes nor made improper requests to the president seeking favors" and that it will do its best "to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings". The important thing is that Samsung did the right thing and fixed the problem. Want to be alerted before Cramer buys or sells AAPL? . Soon after the prosecutor's announcement, Samsung Group said it would disband its corporate strategy office, a decision-making unit for the conglomerate that has been linked to the graft probe. The office has been accused of wielding enormous power for the founding Lee family and illicit lobbying efforts, an illegal act in South Korea, though it is unclear the exact impact the shut down may have on the company.
"It is a shock that Samsung completely dismantled the whole office, cutting the link between group affiliates as if it broke up a fleet", Chung Sun-sup, chief executive of corporate research firm Chaebul.com, said. "But again, these were supposed to be closed earlier and were in fact reborn in new guise", said Stephan Haggard, professor of Korea-Pacific Studies at University of California San Diego. Members of the group are believed to have been behind the bribery payments that led to the indictment.
The merger was seen as critical for the smooth management succession of the group from ailing Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee to his only son, Jae-yong.
The special prosecutor's team on February 28 named President Park Geun-hye as suspect in the extensive corruption scandal pivoting on her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, rounding off its three-month investigation and handing the case back to state prosecutors. Lee, through Samsung spokespersons, has denied the charges.
Others that were indicted include political operatives like a former presidential aide and several academics accused of smoothing over the admission to a university of Choi Soon-sil's daughter.