A South Korean court denied an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong, the scion of the Samsung conglomerate, for his alleged involvement in a national corruption scandal, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The Seoul Central District Court early Thursday rejected prosecutors’ application to detain Lee, saying that it had difficulty “seeing the reason, necessity, and appropriateness of an arrest at this stage”.
It said there was no sufficiently strong basis to establish a bribery charge based on current investigations.
The court’s decision keeps Lee, the de facto head of the Samsung conglomerate, out of detention as the broader probe continues.
The move also throws some cold water on the special prosecutor’s investigation into allegations of bribery, embezzlement and perjury against Lee, which had been gaining momentum quickly in recent days.
A spokesman for the prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Samsung is accused of having contributed about 43 billion won (US$36.6 million) in bribes to entities linked to President Park Geun-hye’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for the government’s backing of a contentious merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.
Lee told lawmakers during testimony last year that he met privately with Park at least twice around the time of the 2015 merger but denied the bribery allegations.
The large, family-controlled conglomerates such as Samsung that dominate South Korea’s economy historically have enjoyed lenient treatment from the country’s judicial system—a factor that has contributed to public anger over the scandal encircling the president.
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