Samsung heir accused of bribery, perjury as trial opens

Over at Samsung headquarters meanwhile, the company reported preliminary operating profit of 9.9 trillion won ($8.7 billion) for the first quarter of 2017, a jump of nearly 50% from a year ago.

The technology firm has also reported a 48% jump in profits during the first three months of 2017, despite challenges around the failure of its Galaxy Note 7 handset a year ago.

Samsung holds back details about each business division's performance until it posts the finalised earnings report later this month. Samsung Electronics is estimated to have earned more than 6 trillion won ($5.3 billion) from chip business in the first three months of 2017 led by a recovery in prices of mainstream chips and heated demand for next-generation memory to run high-performance computing and mobile devices.

The jump in operating profits came despite Samsung sales only increasing by 0.44 percent to 50 trillion won on-year.

Choi and Park, who are now in custody, have been identified by prosecutors as accomplices. Problems began a year ago with widespread reports of exploding Galaxy Note 7 handsets.

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LG did not elaborate on its earnings estimates and will provide detailed financial results at end-April.

In court, Lee listened as prosecutors accused him of bribing Park and her confidant, Choi Soon-sil, in order to win support for a key merger that would cement his leadership of the sprawling Samsung business empire.

Ms Park was arrested last week, after being impeached, and sent to a detention centre, although she has not yet been formally charged. Lee has previously denied the charges, saying that while Samsung did give money to the foundations, he didn't know Choi controlled them nor did he expect anything in return.

The scandal engulfed Park's administration, prompted millions of South Koreans to regularly protest in the streets and culminated in Park's ousting in March. The mobile business is expected to turn out strong figures from the second quarter upon the release of Galaxy S8 series. This is double the number of Galaxy S7 sold previous year in the first 3 months launch period.

Some researchers forecast the S8, which sports the largest screens for Samsung high-end smartphones to date, to set a new first-year sales record.

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