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Samsung heir denies wrongdoing in corruption trial

Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong took the stand in his corruption trial and denied all wrongdoing, The Wall Street Journal reported Aug. 2.

It was the first time Lee has defended himself in the high-profile case, which led to his arrest in February and the impeachment of then South Korea President Park Geun-hye.

The scandal centers on allegations that Samsung paid nearly $37 million to entities controlled by Park's friend Choi Soon-sil. The payments allegedly included an $18.6 million equestrian agreement Samsung made with a small sports consulting company in Germany.

Prosecutors say Lee ordered his company to fund entities linked to Choi, who in exchange colluded with Park to influence the country's pension service to cast a decisive vote in favor of a 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates. The merger was seen as key to consolidating Lee's grip on Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. Samsung has acknowledged making the payments, but has denied they were in exchange for political favors.

In his testimony, Lee claimed ignorance of Samsung's payments and said he was not generally briefed on the conglomerate's sports-related donations.

He also dismissed allegations that he had sought favors from South Korea's former president, and that he had ordered his company to fund entities linked to Choi, according to the report.