updated 1/14/2008 9:54:42 PM ET 2008-01-15T02:54:42

Special prosecutors raided the Samsung Group headquarters Tuesday in a widening probe into allegations that the massive conglomerate set up a slush fund to bribe influential figures.

Yim Jun-seok, a Samsung spokesman, confirmed that investigators entered the strategic planning office at the conglomerate's headquarters in Seoul. The official provided no details.

The raid came a day after investigators ransacked the office of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee and seven other places.

The probe, which started last week, came after Kim Yong-chul, a former top legal affairs official at Samsung, alleged that the conglomerate set up a $215 million slush fund to bribe influential figures such as prosecutors, judges and government officials.

Kim, a former prosecutor himself, alleged that Samsung used Samsung Corp. to create the pool of money through intricate contracts with other group affiliates and that family members of Lee used some of the money to buy expensive art work.

Samsung has denied all the allegations.

South Korea's National Assembly in November passed legislation authorizing an independent counsel investigation into the matter.

Samsung, a conglomerate spanning dozens of companies with interests ranging from construction to shipbuilding, is anchored by Samsung Electronics Co., South Korea's biggest corporation.

The company is the world's largest manufacturer of computer memory chips and plays a leading global role in a range of electronics products including flat screen televisions. It ranks No. 2 in mobile phones behind Finland's Nokia Corp.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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