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Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee to be arrested on bribery charges

Samsung Chief Jay Y. Lee Arrest

Samsung’s tough times are hardly over, as the current political scandal in South Korea is tied to the giant conglomerate. South Korea’s special prosecutor on Monday announced that the office is seeking a warrant to arrest Samsung’s boss Jay Y. Lee on bribery charges.

According to Reuters, investigators had grilled Lee for 22 straight hours last week. He’s a suspect in a corruption scandal which led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Korea’s Constitutional Court is expected to either uphold or overturn the Parliament’s impeachment vote.

Lee, who’s also accused of embezzlement and perjury in the arrest warrant, will appear on Wednesday morning in court, which will decide whether he’ll be arrested or not.

Investigators accused Lee of paying bribes totaling $36.42 million to organizations linked to Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president, to secure the merger of two affiliates back in 2015.

“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,” special prosecution spokesman Lee Kyu-chul said during a media briefing.

Reuters says that Park and Choi shared profits made from the bribery payments.

The Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc. $8 billion was a controversial merger that was supported by the National Pension Service two years ago. Prosecutors believe Samsung’s support for foundations and a company backed by Choi is linked to the NPS’s support of the merger.

Prosecutors believe that Park, through her aides, ordered the NPS chairman Moon Hyang-pyo to support the merger. Moon was indicted on Monday on charges of abuse of power and giving false testimony.

Park and Lee have previously denied any wrongdoing.

Investors do not expect Samsung to be hurt if Lee is arrested, as the company’s divisions are run by professional CEOs. However, Lee’s absence might slow “bigger-picture decision-making.” Samsung shares took a 2.14% dive as a result of the prosecution’s decision to arrest Lee.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.