Samsung chairman ponders resignation

The corruption scandal shaking South Korea's largest conglomerate could lead to a major change in its leadership, an Associated Press report stated, quoting Samsung's chairman.

Lee Kun-hee spoke haltingly to reporters after he emerged from a second round of extensive questioning in a special investigation into allegations of bribery, nepotism and a US$205 million (€130.4 million) slush fund. He said, 'I will deeply think about reshuffling the corporate management structure and the management line-up, including myself.' Asked if he would resign, he replied, '[I] will think about it.'

An independent counsel appointed by the government began investigating Samsung in January, in response to allegations made by a former senior attorney at Sumsung, Kim Yong-chul. Kim claimed Samsung, an empire founded by Lee's father which comprises dozens of companies, bribed prosecutors and judges using the slush fund. Kim also said Lee's wife, who heads a Samsung art museum, used some of the money to buy expensive paintings from abroad.

Samsung Group immediately denied the allegations. The 66-year-old Lee, regarded as the nation's most influential executive, assumed blame for the scandal and said he would 'take full responsibility, either morally or legally.'

A company statement said Lee's comments were contingent on whether the investigation uncovers wrongdoing. The investigation will end on 23 April.