Prosecutors Raid Samsung Chairman's Office

Prosecutors from a special team set up to investigate Samsung Group, South Korea's top business conglomerate, on Monday raided an office of Chairman Lee Kun-hee and homes of other executives, a team official said.

South Korea launched last week a special probe into the group on suspicions it bribed public officials to squash investigations into its management practices.

Officials at Samsung Group and flagship Samsung Electronics could not confirm the report.

Prosecutors and staff searched one of the offices Lee uses in Seoul and homes of seven other Samsung executives, the official at the prosecutor team said. He declined to elaborate.

Despite concerns that the investigation could upset Samsung's business, ranging from semiconductors to shipbuilding and insurance, some analysts welcome the move as potentially shedding light on the conglomerate's opaque leadership structure.

Lee leads the group and also serves as the chairman of Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest maker of memory chips and liquid crystal display (LCD) screens.

South Korea's parliament approved the special counsel in November in response to allegations made by a former top legal executive at Samsung, who said the group used its subsidiaries to help create a slush fund.

Samsung has denied the accusations and issued detailed rebuttals of the allegations.