Published: Sat, February 18, 2017
Global Media | By Meredith Barber

Samsung heir arrested over bribery claims in South Korea

Samsung heir arrested over bribery claims in South Korea

Other charges that have been brought against Lee include embezzlement, illegal foreign property transfers and perjury.

Jail officials told Reuters that 48-year-old Lee was formally arrested and has been taken into custody by authorities after waiting there overnight South Korean time following discussions with police. In the ongoing investigation, prosecutors accuse Samsung of paying bribes of nearly $38 million to organizations linked to the president and an associate to secure government backing of a controversial merger. Hwang Kyo-ahn, the Prime Minister of South Korea, is the acting leader of the country, until the Constitutional Court of Korea decides whether to accept Park's impeachment. Like Lee, Park's confidante Choi was previously arrested and is awaiting trial, as is Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin. Prosecutors wanted Lee arrested earlier in January, but at that point, not enough evidence had been gathered and the judge denied their request. The court explained its ruling via a text message to reporters, saying (quote) "the rationale for and the necessity of Lee's arrest is acknowledged considering the new charges and additional evidence collected". The special counsel also asked for a warrant for the arrest of Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin but the court rejected it, saying " it is hard to recognize the necessity and reason for the arrest". Prior to the arrest, Samsung has already been making preparations to defend Lee Jae Yong. The only son of the elder Lee has been groomed for succession since he began his career with Samsung Electronics in 1991. Known to be Jay Y. Lee's mentor, Choi had been expected by group insiders to take charge of the conglomerate in the event of Lee's absence.

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

"We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings", the Samsung Group said in a brief statement after Lee's arrest. Moreover, the company alleges that it was coerced by Park, who was impeached after the scandal broke out. Lee is the de facto boss since his father - who was himself twice convicted of financial crimes - was incapacitated by a heart attack two years ago.

Samsung and Lee have denied doing anything wrong.

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