The head of Samsung Group Lee Jae-yong was arrested early Friday morning in South Korea. The heir to Samsung Group was being investigated earlier this month and the charges brought against him include bribery to President Park Geun-hye and her advisor Choi Soon-sil. This is the second attempt to arrest the vice chairman by the special counsel.
The Seoul Central District Court originally refused to grant a warrant for his arrest last month, citing a lack of evidence. However, the statement released yesterday says the court acknowledges that “there is a need and reason for the arrest, given newly added criminal charges and additional evidence.”
Currently, Lee is being charged with bribery, embezzlement, perjury, concealment of criminal proceeds, and the illicit transfer of assets abroad. Lee is suspected of offering bribes worth 43 billion won ($36 million) to Choi in return for Park backing a merger of two Samsung affiliates in the country. The merger was necessary to allow Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee’s power to transfer to his son, Lee Jae-yong.
Lee has denied all charges and says he was forced to make donations to entities that were controlled by Choi and that he has not sought any business favors in return for the donations. This has longstanding implications for both Samsung and the Park administration in South Korea, who is currently facing an impeachment trial at the Constitutional Court in Seoul.