Earlier this week, special prosecutors asked a court in South Korea to grant an arrest warrant for Samsung’s chief Jay Y. Lee. The investigators are looking into corruption and bribery allegations concerning the president of South Korea and her associates. Lee on Wednesday morning appeared in court, and then went to jail, where he will await the court’s decision on an arrest warrant.
Lee was transferred to a detention facility in a suburb in southwestern Seoul, The Korea Herald notes. A final decision regarding his permanent arrest should arrive either on Wednesday night or on Thursday morning. If the warrant is accepted, Lee will have to wait out the current investigation from jail. Otherwise, he will be freed.
The special prosecution wants to arrest Lee on charges of bribery, embezzlement, and perjury. Lee allegedly offered bribes amounting to $36 million to President Park Geun-hye and longtime friend Choi Soon-sil. In return, Park influenced the merger of two Samsung affiliates which further consolidated Lee’s power and position.
Lee appeared at the Seoul District Court just before 10 AM local time, and left the hearing after 2 PM, after four hours. He reportedly looked “tense and grim-faced” when he left the court.
Lee did not make any statements to the press, but he denied all charges. “We sufficiently clarified allegations. We are certain that the court will make a wise decision,” Lee’s lawyer Song Woo-chul said. “The sticking point was whether the donations were for business favors.”
Samsung’s lawyers said that the Samsung Group never sought business favors from the government in return for the donations made by Lee. Samsung’s chief said he was forced to make those contributions to entities controlled by Choi, including K-Sports and the Mir foundation.
The prosecution, meanwhile, said that Lee’s detainment is necessary to uphold the law and justice and the arrest will have an impact on the ongoing investigation.
The Herald said in a separate story that Lee’s arrest could add momentum to the Park probe. The president is the central figure in this investigation. Park was already impeached by the government, and the Constitutional Court has to decide whether to uphold or overturn the vote.
Park has so far refused to appear in court, denying any charges against her. Lee’s arrest, if approved, could lead investigators to question the president in person, The Herald says.