Samsung heir apparent and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Lee Jae-yong attended a hearing yesterday at a Seoul court for the second arrest warrant request submitted by South Korea’s special prosecutor’s office in connection with the influence-peddling scandal that has led to the impeachment of the country’s president. While the Samsung heir dodged arrest last month, he wasn’t so lucky this time around.
Lee Jae-yong has been arrested with physical detention early this morning on charges that include bribery to President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil. The Seoul Central District Court has ruled that there is enough evidence to support the charges against Lee. The same court had rejected the first request last month due to lack of evidence. Lee Jae-yong has been immediately placed behind bars at a detention facility in Seoul’s southwest suburb after the judgement was handed down.
The Samsung heir has been charged with embezzlement, bribery, perjury, concealment of criminal proceeds and illicit transfer of assets abroad. An arrest warrant has also been issued for Park Sang-jin, the CEO of Samsung Electronics. Lee Jae-yong is alleged to have offered bribes of more than $35 million to Choi in return for favors from Park’s administration for a controversial 2015 merger between two Samsung affiliates.
The special prosecutor’s office is also of the view that South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission and Financial Services Commission pushed policies in favor of the country’s largest and most influential conglomerate to aid the founding Lee family to further cement its grip on the empire.
For his part, Lee Jae-yong has denied all of the charges against him and maintains that he was forced to make the donations to organizations and foundations controlled by Choi. He also insists that he sought no favors in return for those contributions. It remains to be seen now who is going to fill the serious leadership vacuum that Lee Jae-yong’s arrest has left at Samsung.