Seoul — Samsung Electronics Vice-Chairman Jay Y Lee on Wednesday rejected allegations that he paid bribes to a friend of South Korea’s former president to secure support for a key merger. Testifying for the first time in his graft trial, the 49-year-old said a 2014 meeting with then-President Park Geun-hye lasted less than five minutes while a pow-wow the next year did not discuss Samsung’s corporate restructuring. The billionaire heir to South Korea’s biggest company has been in detention since February and is the highest-profile business figure drawn into a scandal that led to the removal of Park. Prosecutors have zeroed in on meetings between Lee and the former South Korean leader, alleging they colluded to get a state-backed pension fund to support a merger of Samsung affiliates in return for financial favours. Among the allegations is that Samsung provided an $800,000 horse and financial support for the daughter of Park confidante Choi Soon-sil at the former president’s behest....

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