March 17, 2018

Samsung Heir Again Faces Arrest in South Korea Bribery Scandal

17 February 2017, 10:40 | Melvin Schneider

Samsung Heir Again Faces Arrest in South Korea Bribery Scandal

Jay Y Lee

Jay Y Lee, the de facto head of the Samsung Group, has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in a corruption scandal that has led to the impeachment of South Korea's President, Park Guen-hye.

The Samsung Electronics vice chairman is accused of paying almost $40 million in bribes to Park's secret confidante to secure policy favours. The judge decided on the arrest only 10 hours after Lee left the court.

Lee Jae-Yong, Samsung Electronics vice chairman, is accused of paying almost $40 million in bribes to Park's secret confidante to secure policy favours.

The court dismissed prosecutors' request to arrest Park Sang-jin, a president at Samsung Electronics overseeing external relations, saying that it was hard to justify Park's arrest given his position and role within the company.

Unless significant new evidence has emerged, it is highly unusual for a prosecutor to apply for an arrest warrant for a criminal suspect for a second time.

The investigation into Samsung is part of the wider one into dozens of other South Korean companies.

In late November, Samsung announced plans to reorganize group companies under a holding company and overhaul operations to put shareholders first, with a primary focus on increasing dividends significantly.

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Lee is accused of paying bribes to President Gun-Hye Park and presidential adviser Soon-sil Choi by donating large sums to non-profit foundations run by them.

The company also signed a contract worth tens of millions of dollars with a German company owned by Choi and her daughter to finance the daughter's equestrian training in the European country. This is the same issue that caused South Korea's impeach its president.

On Wednesday, Samsung Group repeated an earlier denial on its official Twitter account: "Samsung has absolutely never bribed the president seeking something in return or sought illicit favours".

The incident is a huge blow to Samsung Electronics, the key unit where Lee serves as vice chairman. "There are many smart people at the company", former Samsung Electronics executive Kim Yong-serk said recently.

If Park's impeachment holds, then she will become the first South Korean leader to leave office before her term ends.

Last month, Park did not turn up to testify in a court case which will decide her future.

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