Olympics - Samsung Electronics rejects 2018 lobbying allegations

An employee wipes a Samsung Electronics' smartphone at its booth in Pyeongchang, South Korea, February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> has rejected allegations made by a South Korean broadcaster that it was involved in improper lobbying to bring the 2018 Winter Olympics to Pyeongchang.

Broadcaster SBS has reported that a prosecution investigation into the corruption scandal that led to the downfall of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye had uncovered e-mails linking the tech giant to efforts to secure votes for Pyeongchang's third bid to host the Games.

SBS said it had obtained copies of e-mails between Samsung officials and Papa Massata Diack, who has been accused by France's financial prosecutor of being part of a corruption racket involved in determining the Olympic host cities.

Diack is the son of the former head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Lamine Diack, who is under investigation for alleged corruption in France.

Samsung sponsored the IAAF's Diamond League circuit between 2010 and 2012.

As a member of the IOC's TOP sponsorship programme, Samsung is not allowed to lobby for a candidate host city.

In a statement posted on its internal newsroom website on Tuesday, Samsung denied it had lobbied illegally for Pyeongchang and said there was nothing wrong with its financial backing of the IAAF.

"The company has reviewed everything and found that, just like all the other general sponsorship contracts, its sponsorship with the federation was legal," it said.

In 2009, former Korean President Lee Myung-bak pardoned then-Samsung chief and International Olympic Committee member Lee Kun-hee after he had been convicted of tax evasion and handed a three-year suspended jail sentence a year earlier.

Samsung's Lee was instrumental in bringing the Games to Pyeongchang, which easily beat out Munich and France's Annecy in the first round of voting at the IOC session in Durban in 2011.

Pyeongchang hosted the Winter Games in February.

(Reporting by Joori Roh, Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

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