Samsung heir could be put behind bars in South Korean bribery scandal
The heir to Samsung’s empire is embroiled in a bribery scandal.
South Korea’s prosecutor is seeking a warrant to arrest Samsung Group’s Jay Y. Lee over bribery and embezzlement allegations. The 48-year-old executive is poised to take over control of Samsung’s business empire from his father, Lee Kun-hee. Jay Y. Lee is accused of bribing Choi Soon-sil, an aide to South Korean president Park Geun-hye, in order to secure political backing for the $8 billion merger of Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc.
The exec is said to have paid up to $36.4 million (43 billion won) in bribes, with the prosecutor stating that the profits were split between Choi and president Park. As news of the political involvement broke last year, the South Korean parliament moved to impeach the president. The country’s special prosecutor is now going after Samsung’s heir, and with the company accounting for 17% of Korea’s economy, the move will have far-reaching consequences:
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.
In a statement to Reuters, Samsung denied any wrongdoing:
It is difficult to understand the special prosecutors’ decision. It is especially hard to accept the special prosecutor’s assertion that there was improper request for a favor related to the merger or succession of control.
Lee is expected to appear for a hearing at the Seoul central district court on Wednesday, which is when the court will decide whether to approve the warrant for his arrest.