South Korea Court Approves Arrest of Samsung Heir Jay Y. Lee

On the morning of February 17, Seoul court approved the arrest warrant for Lee Jae Yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group, who's accused of bribery, embezzlement, and perjury.

Seoul Central District Court said it will hold a hearing on Thursday to review the request to issue an arrest warrant citing those crimes.

After the prosecutor's first attempt to arrest Lee was rejected by a court on January 19 due to lack of evidence, the billionaire heir was called in again for 15 hours of questioning on Monday as investigators sought more information. The pension fund's current chief was arrested previous year on suspicion of pressuring the fund to back the merger, which helped Lee increase his influence in Samsung Electronics without spending any of his money.

Samsung was the biggest donor among dozens of South Korean companies that donated a total of almost 70 million dollars (£56 million) to two non-profit foundations controlled by Ms Choi, the president's friend.

Heroic tradie says chasing down alleged criminal "was good fun" TODAY chat to tradie Reece Brown about his heroic efforts, putting his body on the line to catch a man who led police on a wild chase through the streets of Brisbane. But underneath the consumer goods a scandal has been brewing, and it has now engulfed the company's vice chairman and heir apparent, Jay Y. Lee. It is also accused of separately giving millions of euros to Choi to bankroll her daughter's equestrian training in Germany.

Lee and the Samsung Group [SAGR.UL] have denied any wrongdoing. The prosecutors also brought up accusations on Lee of hiding assets overseas and concealing profit gained from criminal acts.

Park is suspended from duty but is still protected by her position pending a final ruling on her impeachment by the Constitutional Court.

Park, who was impeached by the National Assembly in December a year ago, is awaiting the Constitutional Court's decision on whether to uphold her impeachment.

Samsung has denied all charges.

Samsung has "never" offered bribes to the president expecting something in return nor has it sought wrongful favors, the company said.

Lee's arrest will likely shock the business community.

The merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in 2015 was opposed by minority shareholders, who said it would benefit the Samsung founding family while hurting other shareholders.

Prosecutors are probing whether Samsung had paid Choi to secure state approval for the controversial merger of two Samsung units seen as a key step towards ensuring a smooth power transfer to Lee.

Earlier this month, prosecutors searched the offices of the antitrust agency, the Korea Fair Trade Commission, and financial regulator, the Financial Services Commission, as part of their investigation of Samsung Group.

  • Jon Douglas