Taking a que from scandals in Korea

Friday, February 17, 2017

Opponents of President Trump have long been critical of his continuing ties to the family business, most recently adviser Kellyanne Conway's endorsement of Ivanka Trump's line of clothes.

For a look at what can happen when business and government mix, check out recent events in South Korea.

The de-facto head of Samsung, the world's largest manufacturer of cell phones, TVs and computer memory chips, Lee Jae-yong, was arrested for allegedly bribing President Park Geun-hye and a close friend to the tune of $36 million to grease the skids for the merger of two Samsung companies and new company leadership.

President Park is the 11th president of South Korea and the first woman president, but her duties and powers were suspended in December because of the Samsung scandal.

Corruption is nothing new in South Korea in general, and Samsung in particular. Lee's father is ailing and was convicted in 2008 and 2009 for embezzlement and tax evasion, stepping away from day-to-day leadership of the company.

One has to wonder if troubles with some Samsung products -- such as an exploding cell phone that is banned from airliners and a washing machine that self-destructs -- are related to turmoil within the company.

While Trump may not be vulnerable to direct bribery in the way the other administrations are, his relationship with family businesses bears close watching as his term of office goes on.

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