S Korea: Samsung chief awaits arrest warrant decision

Lee Jae-yong arrives at Seoul District CourtImage copyright
EPA

A court in South Korea is deliberating whether to issue an arrest warrant for Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong, who’s been accused of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

Mr Lee could be the first executive to be arrested in connection to a scandal which led to the impeachment of the country’s President Park Geun-hye.

South Korea’s special prosecutors made a formal request for an arrest warrant earlier this week.

Samsung has denied any wrongdoing.

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The electronics giant is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Ms Park, in exchange for government favours.

It has admitted making payments but insists it did not expect any favours in return.

Mr Lee, also known as Jay Y Lee was at Seoul Central District Court earlier in the day to give evidence. He is now being held in custody pending the decision.

  • – Grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chul, son of current chairman Lee Kun-hee.

  • – Aged 48, he’s spent his entire career in the company and is vice chairman of Samsung Electronics.

  • – Last year was nominated to join the board of Samsung Electronics – an appointment confirmed on 27 October.

  • – Widely expected to take overall control of Samsung once his 74-year-old father steps down.

  • – Critics say his position on the board is due to his birth, not his business experience.

He is currently vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, but since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, he is considered de facto boss of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.

Samsung is South Korea’s most high-profile company, and its sales are equal to about a fifth of the country’s GDP.

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