Court Grants Warrant For Samsung Vice Chair's Arrest Related To Bribery Case
A closed-door court proceeding yesterday yielded no action, but a decision on whether to issue the arrest warrant will likely be announced early Friday morning.
After the prosecutor's first attempt to arrest Lee was rejected by a court on January 19 due to lack of evidence, the billionaire heir was called in again for 15 hours of questioning on Monday as investigators sought more information.
With Lee facing a formal arrest, the group's Future Strategy Office, which supervises Samsung's groupwide business decisions, is expected to play a key role in making decisions.
South Korea is trying to establish whether the 48-year-old de facto leader of Samsung instructed the financial support to Choi Soon-sil, nicknamed the "Female Rasputin", in exchange for the government's backing for a merger between two of the group's subsidiaries.
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Previously CEO of Samsung Electronics, Choi created the role of chief operating officer in 2010, and appointed Jay Y. Lee to that post. It is also accused of separately giving millions of euros to Choi to bankroll her daughter's equestrian training in Germany.
Park was impeached by parliament in December and South Korea's Constitutional Court will decide whether to uphold that decision.
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An earlier request for an arrest warrant had been denied, but the charges against Lee have expanded since then.
A Seoul court said on Tuesday it would hold a hearing on the request for arrest warrants at 10:30 a.m. (0130 GMT) on Thursday.
Lee and the Samsung have denied doing anything wrong and President Park was already bribed when they got there. The charges he and Lee face also include bribery and embezzlement.
Samsung has "never" offered bribes to the president expecting something in return nor has it sought wrongful favors, the company said.
The special prosecution office is also reportedly looking into whether the value of Samsung Biologics, which went public past year, was overpriced to benefit the Samsung founding family and also whether the fair trade commission gave any favors to Samsung in relation to its complex cross shareholding structure, which allows the Lee family to control the sprawling businesses with only a minority stake.
The merger in 2015 of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was opposed by many investors who said it wilfully undervalued the former unit's shares. After his latest conviction in 2008, he was pardoned a year later by the president, who said he would help South Korea's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
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