Date
23 October 2018
Lee Jae-yong (center) arrives for questioning at the office of the independent prosecutor in Seoul. The arrest warrant for Lee is the latest development in a political corruption scandal that has rocked South Korea. Photo: Associated Press
Lee Jae-yong (center) arrives for questioning at the office of the independent prosecutor in Seoul. The arrest warrant for Lee is the latest development in a political corruption scandal that has rocked South Korea. Photo: Associated Press

South Korean prosecutors seek to arrest Samsung heir

South Korean prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong, heir to the Samsung conglomerate, ensnaring the leader of the world’s largest smartphone maker in the country’s widening corruption scandal, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Lee’s arrest warrant, accusing him of bribery, embezzlement and perjury, must be approved by a South Korean court, which is scheduled to convene on Wednesday.

An arrest warrant allows the specially appointed prosecutors to continue their investigation while Lee is detained. Formal charges and an indictment would follow.

A spokesman for the special prosecutor’s office that is overseeing the investigation said at a briefing on Monday that while they considered the economic impact of Lee’s arrest, “it is more important to seek justice”.

The Samsung conglomerate accounts for nearly one-third of South Korea’s stock-market value.

Samsung denounced the special prosecutor’s decision.

“Samsung did not make contributions in order to receive favors,” the company said. “In particular, we find it hard to accept the special prosecutor’s argument that Samsung has made improper requests related to the merger of Samsung affiliates or the leadership transition.”

The arrest warrant for Lee is the latest development in a political corruption scandal that has rocked South Korea and has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

With Lee in custody, the company could face a leadership vacuum while smartphone maker Samsung Electronics Co. is also reeling from a massive recall of its Galaxy Note 7 device.

It could also put on hold any further attempts to reorganize one of the world’s most complex business empires.

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