World

South Korean investigators again seek arrest of Samsung heir

South Korean investigators again seek arrest of Samsung heir

Lee Jae-yong appeared in the court an hour before the start of the hearing, which was scheduled at 10.30 a.m. local time, Efe news reported.

Samsung officials, who had vowed to "reveal the truth in the court" before the arrest warrant was granted, expressed serious concerns that a leadership vacuum would make the group's key business decisions hit a standstill.

Prosecutors have accused Lee of giving bribes worth $36 million to President Park Geun-hye and her long-time friend in order to win government favors for a company leadership transition.

Prosecutors, who have less than two weeks to investigate the corruption scandal unless the National Assembly extends their deadline, are making a second and possibly last attempt to arrest Lee, 48.

In December 2016, the South Korean Parliament approved Park's dismissal.

Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special prosecution office probing the scandal, said investigators have since strengthened their case with additional evidence.

President Park, who was voted for impeachment in December, and her now jailed friend Choi Soon-Sil, denied wrongdoings involving the business.

With the scandal engulfing the group for months, Samsung has not conducted its annual personnel reshuffle and failed to lay out its business targets for this year. They also are investigating Lee on allegations of embezzlement of Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas and lying under oath during a parliamentary hearing.


Lee's arrest is likely to put greater public focus on three key executives at the sprawling conglomerate.

Park has denied wrongdoing, as has her friend, Choi.

Some group watchers dismissed that likelihood, noting that Lee Boo-jin does not have experience at the flagship Samsung Electronics or hold a significant stake in the company.

It also transferred millions of euro to Ms Choi's company in Germany which financed the equestrian training of her daughter and helped fund a winter sports centre operated by her niece.

They have also requested an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd President Park Sang-jin, who was also questioned on Monday.

Samsung said in a statement Wednesday it had "not paid bribes nor made improper requests to the president seeking favours".

The son of company chair Lee Kun-hee, the younger Lee has officially served as Samsung's vice chair and its de facto head since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

When the merger of Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung C&T Corp. was originally proposed, shareholders including activist investor Paul Elliott Singer fought against it, arguing the purchase price was too low and would cement the founding family's control at the expense of minority shareholders.


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