Samsung Chief Accused of Bribery
South Korea's special prosecutor sought a warrant to arrest Jay Y. Lee, head of Samsung Group, after investigators accused him of paying bribes to a friend of President Park Geun-hye.
Investigators interrogated Lee for 22 straight hours as part of a corruption scandal, which led up to South Korea's parliament impeaching President Park.
According to Reuters, the special prosecutor's office said that Lee paid bribes totaling about $36.42 million to organizations linked to Choi Soon-sil, Park's confidant and advisor, who holds no government position but allegedly used her position to influence Park's decisions. The bribe was in order to secure the 2015 merger of Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc., which solidified his position at the head of Samsung.
Lee became the de facto head of Samsung Group after his father suffered a heart attack in 2014. According to the prosecution's application for a warrant, Lee also was accused of embezzlement and perjury.
"The special prosecutor's 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 told Reuters.
Prosecutors said that Park and Choi also shared profits made from bribery payments.
Lee is due in court in Seoul on Wednesday morning, and the court will decide whether or not it will grant the arrest warrant.
Samsung makes up about 17 percent of South Korea's economy, generating $230 billion in revenue. The company rejected the accusation that Lee paid bribes.