Special Prosecutors Attempting to Lock Up Samsung Heir Again?
SEOUL, Feb. 14 (Yonhap) -- Special prosecutors on Tuesday sought the arrest of the de facto leader of Samsung Group on charges of bribery in relation to impeached President Park Geun-hye, after their first attempt was rejected by a local court last month.
The investigation team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, in January asked the Seoul Central District Court to issue a warrant to formally detain Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., but the court did not acknowledge the necessity of the arrest.
Seeking the arrest of Lee for a second time, the prosecutors also asked the court to issue a writ for Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin over his involvement in the alleged irregularities, according to the probe team.
The court will hold a hearing on Thursday 10:30 a.m. to decide the legality of their detention.
The investigation team said more criminal charges have been leveled against Lee compared to the last time it sought his arrest.
It declined to elaborate further, saying its spokesman will give more details during a regular press briefing on Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutors accused Lee of giving or promising some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to the president's jailed friend Choi Soon-sil in return for the state-run pension fund's backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.
The business arrangement was seen as critical for the smooth management succession of the group from ailing Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee to his only son Jae-yong.
The Samsung scion has denied the allegations raised against him.
Lee was questioned for a second time on Monday, as the special prosecutors accelerated their probe into an influence-peddling scandal centered on President Park, with the investigation deadline slated for Feb. 28. The period can be extended once for a month with the consent of Acting President and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn.'