Lee Jae-yong pic

Samsung’s heir apparent Lee Jae-yong has been placed under arrest in South Korea, accused of bribery and other charges, the media reported. The case is linked to a scandal that led to the impeachment of the country’s President Park Geung-hye.

Lee is currently vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics. But since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014, he is considered de facto boss of the entire Samsung Group conglomerate.

Samsung is accused of giving donations to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of Park, in exchange for government favors. Lee and the Samsung Group denied any wrongdoing.

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“We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings,” the Samsung Group said in a brief statement following Lee’s arrest. The Samsung chief had already been questioned with several other company executives in January but a subsequent court ruling decided there was insufficient grounds for an arrest.

But on Friday, a court spokesman said in a statement: “It is acknowledged that it is necessary to arrest (Lee Jae-Yong) in light of a newly added criminal charge and new evidence.” Lee has been in detention since he was summoned back to court for a hearing held behind closed doors earlier this week.

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Prosecutors accused Lee of giving bribes worth 41 billion won ($36 million) to President Park and her close friend Choi Soon-sil to win government support for a smooth leadership transition within Samsung.

Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y Lee, first gave evidence in front of a parliamentary hearing in December last year. Since January he has been treated as an official suspect in the case.At the parliamentary hearing, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won to two foundations, but denied seeking favors in return.

And Lee also confirmed the firm gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regretted. Prosecutors now have 20 days to detain and question him before they have to formally indict Lee.

Source:IANS