Samsung head arrested for corruption scandal involving South Korea president
Samsung‘s would be head Lee Jae-yong (Jay Y Lee) was arrested in Seoul [WP report] on Friday on charges of bribery and undue influence in connection with a scandal involving South Korea President Park Geun-hye. In approving the warrant for the arrest, the Seoul Central District Court stated in a text message released to the press: “The rationale for and the necessity of his arrest is acknowledged considering the new charges and additional evidence collected.” Lee was summoned by the prosecutors for questioning on Monday, four days before the court approved this warrant. This was a second request for an arrest warrant requested by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office of the Republic of Korea —the first was denied by the same court in January. The initial charges against Lee included bribery, embezzlement and perjury. Specifically, the prosecution has alleged that Lee directed Samsung to pay approximately $36 million in bribes to Choi Soon-sil, former culture minister and a close confidante of the impeached president, in exchange for the government’s support for a crucial Samsung merger deal. The prosecutors have added additional charges to Lee’s warrant since the first failed attempt to secure the same including hiding criminal proceeds and violating the law on transferring assets overseas. A spokesperson for Samsung said of the arrest: “We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings.”
The past several months have been an embarrassing turn of events both for Samsung and the South Korea Government. Two weeks ago South Korea’s special prosecutor indicted Choi and former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon on charges of bribery, coercion and abuse of power for their roles in creating a blacklist of opposition artists. In November, the Parliament of South Korea appointed a special prosecutor to investigate Park for allegedly allowing individuals to influence state affairs. The investigation led to the impeachment of Park, who has been accused of sharing confidential governmental information and extorting millions of dollars from large corporations. That investigation led to the discovery Samsung and Lee’s involvement.