South Korean prosecutors set sights on Samsung heir

Jay Y. Lee

Prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for Samsung Group’s Jay Y. Lee, following allegations including bribery and embezzlement, according to Bloomberg.

Samsung is now facing its second crisis in a matter of months, after it was forced to pull the Note 7 smartphone off the market because devices around the globe caught fire.

Lee has been groomed for decades to take over the company from his father, Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee.

The de facto head of the Samsung Group and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., has been accused of participating in payments that Samsung made to a close friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye in exchange for government support in the company’s succession planning.

A court will still have to determine whether to approve the warrant, which was announced by prosecutors in a briefing on Monday. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

A special prosecutors’ team was established in December to investigate whether Samsung and other business groups contributed money to Choi Soon-sil, the Park confidant, in exchange for political favours.

President Park has been already impeached and her powers suspended. Samsung shares fell as much as 3 percent following the announcement.

“We believe that there was an illegal request made by Samsung in facilitating the process of business succession,” Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said in the briefing.

The total amount of bribes and promises made by Samsung is alleged to be about 43 billion won ($36 million), Lee said.

Prosecutors are also probing three other Samsung executives, including corporate strategy office vice chairman Choi Gee-sung, president Chang Choong-ki and Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin.


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