South Korean officials announced Monday they are seeking an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong over allegations of bribery, perjury, and embezzlement.
Lee allegedly paid multi-million dollar bribes to a friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Investigators grilled the Samsung executive last week for 22 straight hours, as part of an ongoing corruption investigation that last month led to the impeachment of Guen-hye.
The special prosecutor’s office reports Lee paid bribes totaling $36.42 million to groups linked to a close friend of Guen-hye, in order to secure the 2015 merger and take full control of the family business, Reuters reports.
Seeking an arrest warrant for Lee is the latest in a string of corruption charges sweeping through South Korea’s political and business elites, CNN reports. The executive is slated to appear before a judge Wednesday, where the judge will decide if the arrest warrant is valid. If the judge decides the arrest warrant is valid, Jae-young, the man in line to head the nation’s largest technology firm, will go to detention.
“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,” a spokesman for the special prosecutors office told reporters.
Lee’s arrest warrant came on the exact same day that South Korea’s National Pension Service Chief Moon Hyung-pyo was indicted on charges of perjury and abuse of power. Moon reportedly pressured a major shareholder in one of Samsung’s affiliates to support a merger while he was an acting government official.
Samsung’s stock is down 12 percent after news of the arrest warrant, and dropped over 5 percent Thursday when Lee was named as a suspect in the ongoing corruption investigation.
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