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Warrant Out On Samsung Chief

South Korean prosecutors are seeking a warrant to arrest Samsung Group’s Jay Y. Lee for allegations including bribery and embezzlement. The 48-year-old Lee is de facto head of the Samsung group and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics. He has been accused of participating in payments that Samsung made to a close friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, allegedly in exchange for government support in the company’s succession planning which would see Lee take effective charge. A further hearing in the matter is scheduled for today.

“We believe that there was an illegal request made by Samsung in facilitating the process of business succession,” said Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office. The arrest warrant would let prosecutors continue their probe while Lee is detained, he added.

The total amount of bribes, including promised funds and money embezzled is alleged to be about 43 billion won [about A$48 million], Lee said.

The investigation jeopardises Lee’s ability to take over the Samsung Group and risks further destabilising the leadership of South Korea’s largest company, observers say. “If Lee is imprisoned, it will damage Samsung’s reputation as well as South Korea’s economy in general,” said Park Sang-in, professor of economics at Seoul National University. “Samsung represents the country’s economy, he added.

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