Lee Jae-yong, the acting chief of Samsung and its apparent heir, was arrested Friday on bribery and embezzlement charges in Seoul, South Korea, over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye.
The Seoul Central District Court also rejected a request to issue an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin, who also heads the Korea Equestrian Federation.
The Seoul Central District Court approved prosecutors’ request for an arrest warrant about a month after an unsuccessful attempt to detain the 48-year-old corporate scion, who also goes by the name Jay Y. Lee.
Lee is a suspect in an influence-peddling scandal that led parliament to impeach Park in December, a decision that, if upheld by the Constitutional Court, would make her the country’s first democratically elected leader forced out of office.
That means that both the head of South Korea’s largest conglomerate and the country’s president have fallen — at least temporarily — in the widening scandal that revolves around allegations of bribery and influence at the highest levels.
“The rationale for and the necessity of his arrest is acknowledged considering the new charges and additional evidence collected,” Seoul Central District Court said in a text message sent to reporters, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
In a one-line statement, Samsung said, “We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings.”
Prosecutors added charges of hiding criminal proceeds and violating the law on transferring assets overseas to their initial charges against Lee of bribery, embezzlement, and perjury. In December, the court said that the prosecutors had not made a sufficient case for Lee’s detention, an interim victory for Samsung.
Samsung’s Lee is accused of paying bribes of over $37 million to President Park and her confidant Choi Soon-sil in exchange for influence concerning a massive but controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung units. That deal is seen as the key to Lee’s succession plans.
Park has been impeached following the investigation. She remains in office but has no power. If the decision is upheld, a new presidential election should take place in a couple of months.