Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested amid bribery allegations
Published : 17 Feb 2017, 10:41:57
The billionaire heir to Samsung has been arrested following allegations of bribery in connection to a massive corruption scandal.
In a blow to the world’s biggest smartphone maker, Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman at Samsung Electronics and the only son of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, was formally arrested after the Seoul central district court issued a warrant last night.
Prosecutors have accused Mr Lee, 48, of handing bribes worth almost £30m to President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil to win government favours for a smooth leadership transition.
They are also investigating Mr Lee on allegations of embezzlement of Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas and lying under oath during a parliamentary hearing.
The court said new criminal suspicion and additional evidence showed that there were enough reasons to take Mr Lee into custody.
Prosecutors can detain him for up to 20 days before formally indicting him.
Mr Lee avoided arrest last month when the court dismissed the prosecutors’ request citing a lack of evidence.
The court dismissed a request by prosecutors to arrest Park Sang-jin, a president at Samsung Electronics overseeing external relations, saying that it was difficult to justify given his position and role within the company.
The court’s decision will likely embolden the special prosecution team, and aid its cause in bringing bribery charges against Ms Park Geun-hye, whose powers were suspended in December by parliament.
She is awaiting a decision by the Constitutional Court on whether she will be permanently removed from the presidency.
Ms Park and Ms Choi have denied any wrongdoing, while Samsung has denied that it offered bribes or sought any wrongful favours from the president.
A spokesman for Samsung said: “We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings.”
Mr Lee’s father, the ailing Samsung chairman, has been convicted in the past of embezzlement, tax evasion and breach of trust but was never imprisoned.
Samsung had been engaged in a restructuring process as it clears a succession path for Mr Lee to assume control after his father suffered a heart attack.
Mr Lee has been the de facto head of Samsung since the incident in 2014.
Experts said a possible trial could take as long as 18 months.Telegraph.com