South Korean Prosecutors Seek Arrest Of Samsung Vice Chair Linked To Bribery Scandal

Image courtesy of Samuel M. Livingston

A week after a South Korean special prosecutor investigating a bribery scandal called on Samsung’s vice chairman for questioning, officials are calling for the tech company executive’s arrest.

Reuters reports that South Korea’s special prosecutor applied for a warrant to arrest Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee, accusing him of allegedly paying $36.4 million in bribes to secure a merger of two affiliates, as well as perjury and embezzlement.

The warrant comes after Lee faced 22 hours of questioning last week related to his part in a corruption scandal involving South Korea President Park Geun-hye.

“The special prosecutors’ office, in making this decision to seek an arrest warrant, determined that while the country’s economic conditions are important, upholding justice takes precedence,” Lee Kyu-chul, special prosecution spokesman, tells Reuters.

Lee is expected to appear Wednesday morning at the Seoul central district court, Reuters reports, where the fate of the warrant will be decided.

The case involves whether or not millions of dollars in payments from Samsung to businesses and foundations run by an associate of the President’s — Choi Soon-sil — constituted a bribe, and if Lee had any personal dealings with the contributions.

The prosecutor’s office alleges that Samsung’s contributions — including $17 million in donations to Choi’s foundation and millions of dollars worth of contracts to companies she ran or was involved with — were made in exchange for a decision by the National Pension Services to support a merger of two of the electronic company’s affiliates.

The merger was personally reportedly beneficial to Lee, as it eventually led him to take over control of Samsung from his father.

Samsung, in a statement to Reuters, denied that Lee paid any kind of bribes.

“It is difficult to understand the special prosecutors’ decision,” it said in an emailed statement.