Samsung Group chief Lee Jae-yong has been arrested over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye, a South Korean court says.
He was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Centre after waiting there overnight for the decision, following a day-long closed-door hearing that ended on Thursday evening. He was being held in a single cell with a TV and desk, a jail official said.
The court initially rejected a request last month to arrest Lee, but prosecutors on Tuesday brought additional accusations against Lee, seeking his arrest on bribery and other charges.
South Korea’s special prosecutor’s office accuses Lee of bribing President Park Geun-hye – who is currently facing impeachment over the scandal – with 43 billion won ($38 million) in exchange for government favors related to leadership succession at Samsung Group. Lee now faces charges including bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas, and perjury. Both Geun-hye and Lee have denied wrongdoing in the case.
Although Lee’s detention is not expected to interrupt the day-to-day operation of Samsung firms, which are run by professional managers, experts said it could hinder strategic decision-making by South Korea’s biggest conglomerate.
I think this might be a tough one for Samsung because this detention comes as Samsung tries to restore its Galaxy brand following last year’s Note7 fiasco, in which the handsets were prone to setting on fire whilst charging.