Judge Rejects Arrest Warrant For Samsung Boss
A judge in a South Korean Court, has thrown out an application for an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong, the head of Samsung who stands accused of being involved in a national corruption scandal.
The Seoul Central District Court rejected prosecutors’ application to detain Mr. Lee, saying that it had difficulty “seeing the reason, necessity, and appropriateness of an arrest at this stage,” adding that there wasn’t a sufficiently strong basis to establish a bribery charge based on current investigations. The move raises questions as to the strength of the investigation into allegations of bribery, embezzlement and perjury against Mr. Lee.
Some insiders claim that the prosecutors office are trying to make a name for themselves off the back of high profile identities in South Korea.
The court’s decision keeps Mr. Lee, the de facto head of the Samsung conglomerate, out of detention.
A spokesman for the prosecutors didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Samsung is accused of having contributed about $36.6 million in bribes to entities linked to President Park Geun-hye’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for the government’s backing of a contentious merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.
Mr. Lee told lawmakers during testimony last year that he met privately with Ms. Park at least twice around the time of the 2015 merger, but denied the bribery allegations.
THe Wall Street Journal claims that the large, family-controlled conglomerates such as Samsung that dominate South Korea’s economy historically have enjoyed lenient treatment from the country’s judicial system—a factor that has contributed to public anger over the scandal encircling the president.
Prosecutors had earlier said that they could resubmit a request for an arrest warrant to the court in the event of a refusal, but it’s not clear if they would take such a course.
In an emailed statement, a Samsung spokeswoman said, “We appreciate the fact that the merits of this case can now be determined without the need for detention.”
The court’s decision came in the predawn hours on Thursday morning, more than 12 hours after the court hearing wrapped up midday on Wednesday. Mr. Lee had been awaiting the court’s decision at a detention center south of Seoul and was seen departing the facility about an hour after the court’s decision. He left carrying a white paper bag and wearing the same clothes as the day before. Mr. Lee left swiftly in a car without responding to questions from reporters.