SEOUL, July 25 (UPI) -- South Korea's Samsung Group apologized Monday for a scandal over illegal political donations in the presidential election of 1997.
"We offer a sincere apology to the public for causing concerns, regardless of the truth of a series of media reports on the matter," South Korea's leading conglomerate said in a statement.
Samsung's public apology came amid growing suspicions that the country's most powerful business group might have been deeply involved in slush funds for politicians during the presidential election campaign.
The group's alleged political donations came to light after the country's MBC television made a series of reports on a conversation, secretly taped by South Korea's intelligence agency, between Hong Seok-hyun, the former head of Samsung-affiliated newspaper JoongAng Ilbo, and Samsung's key official just ahead of the election.
Hong, now South Korea's ambassador to the United States, is under strong pressure to step down because of his alleged involvement in illicit dealings. Hong is a brother-in-law of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee.