Samsung chief arrested over S.Korean scandal

Samsung chief arrested over S.Korean scandal

Samsung Electronics' vice chairman was charged with embezzlement, bribery, perjury, concealment of criminal proceeds and illicit transfer of assets overseas.

Seoul Central District Court made a decision to arrest the Samsung Group chief early on Friday after an nearly day-long closed-door hearing.

The independent counsel team made its first request to arrest Vice Chairman Lee, which was denied on January 19 by the Seoul court for lack of evidence.

A judge at the Seoul Central District Court said there is enough justification to issue the warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong given the newly added charges and the newly collected evidences.

The prosecution said it had secured additional evidence and brought more charges against Lee, the group's third-generation leader, in the latest warrant request. His grandfather, Lee Byung-chul, was the founder of the Samsung Group, and had faced smuggling charges but was not arrested. The special prosecutor's office believes that the Fair Trade Commission and Financial Services Commission in South Korea pushed legislation in favor of Samsung and the founding family Lee.

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Samsung has been embroiled in a political scandal which in December led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-Hye, after months of political turmoil in South Korea.

The prosecutor is also preparing to bring bribery charges against President Park who can not be indicted while she is in office. Like Lee, Park's confidante Choi was previously arrested and is awaiting trial, as is Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin.

But scandal engulfed him when the firm's fertiliser unit was caught smuggling artificial sweetener amid allegations he had planned to share the proceeds with corrupt politicians.

The issuance of this ruling implies that Lee Jae Yong will be included in the charges that President Park and Choi are facing. In fact, in one of the prior national committee hearings, Lee mentioned under oath that he did not know Choi. Park formally remains the President until the Constitutional Court decides whether to back the parliamentary decision.

That funding includes Samsung's sponsorship of the equestrian career of Choi's daughter, who is in detention in Denmark after being sought by South Korean authorities, prosecutors say. Without a doubt, it's a heavy setback for the country's biggest conglomerate.

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