Published: Sun, February 19, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Samsung chief arrested amid widening South Korea corruption scandal

Samsung chief arrested amid widening South Korea corruption scandal

Samsung vice-chairman Lee Jae-Yong (also known as Jay Y. Lee) has been detained today over a corruption scandal that goes all the way up to South Korea's president Park Geun Hye.

Lee is accused of bribing a close friend of the president to gain government favours and faces charges of bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury. Last month, the same court rejected the special prosecutor's request that Lee be arrested.

Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special prosecution office probing the scandal, said the investigators have since strengthened their case with additional evidence.

He has been the de facto Samsung head after his father Lee Kun Hee, Samsung's former chairman, was hospitalized in 2014 following a heart attack. His grandfather, Lee Byung-chul, was the founder of the Samsung Group, and had faced smuggling charges but was not arrested.

Lee's defense has consistently been that Samsung paid out donations with no strings attached under pressure from the president.

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Lee's arrest was seen as a blow to Park who is staging an uphill battle at the constitutional court to overturn her impeachment by parliament. Moreover, the company alleges that it was coerced by Park, who was impeached after the scandal broke out. Elise pointed out last month that the scandal engulfing Park has drawn scrutiny to the power of massive, dynastic businesses like Samsung - power so evident that South Korea occasionally gets saddled with the moniker "Republic of Samsung". The order was made by the Seoul Central District Court, which reportedly elected not to issue an arrest warrant for Park Sang-jin, Samsung Electronics' president. Lee Jae-yong's arrest is expected to have as yet untold repercussions not only on the investigation but also on the Korean economy.

But he was questioned for a second time earlier this week.

The non-profit organisations which were awarded by Lee were operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the South Korean president. Without a doubt, it's a heavy setback for the country's biggest conglomerate.

The leader of Samsung, the South Korean-based tech conglomerate, was arrested Friday for allegedly bribing a government confidante so he could permanently take over the company.

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