Samsung chairman’s accounts being probed

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Samsung chairman’s accounts being probed

Financial authorities on Monday launched an inspection into brokerage accounts under borrowed names used by Samsung Group’s ailing chairman, Lee Kun-hee.

The inspection came a week after the Ministry of Government Legislation clarified that the government can levy a fine on Lee for managing funds in so-called borrowed-name accounts.

The two-week inspection targets 27 accounts at four brokerages -- Samsung Securities, Shinhan Investment, Mirae Asset Daewoo and Korea Investment & Securities.

Lee, who has been hospitalized since suffering a heart attack in 2014, has been criticized for withdrawing money from such accounts without paying taxes or fines, even though he allegedly violated a law that bans financial transactions with borrowed-name accounts.

The money is believed to have been inherited from his father, Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chull.

A 1993 law requires Koreans to open bank or other financial accounts using their real names.

Although financial authorities have inspected the accounts, questions have been raised because there are no transaction records for the accounts on Aug. 12, 1993, the day before the law came into force.

Officials at the Financial Supervisory Service said the inspection aims to figure out how much money was in the accounts at that time.

Earlier this month, police named Lee as a suspect in a tax evasion case, accusing him of managing 400 billion won ($374.9 million) in 260 accounts held by executives at Samsung.

Lee could not be questioned and the case has been referred to prosecutors, police said.

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