South Korean investigators again seek arrest of Samsung heir

Lee Jae-yong is accused of paying 43 billion won to a close friend of the South Korean president in return for favoursYonhap  EPA

On Tuesday, the special prosecutor's office had again requested a warrant to arrest Lee on bribery and other charges again.

Lee was first publicly tied to the case last month when he faced 22 hours of questioning related to his part in the corruption scandal involving South Korea President Park Geun-hye.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and son of the Samsung group head Lee Kun-hee, is accused of paying almost $40m in bribes to Park's secret confidante to secure policy favours.

A South Korean court on Friday (Korea time) approved a warrant for the arrest of Jay Y. Lee, the acting head of Samsung Group, in connection with a political scandal in the country, according to reports from Dow Jones and the Associated Press.

He had narrowly avoided being formally arrested last month, after the court ruled there was insufficient evidence. It is fairly likely that Jay will get an automatic get out of jail free card even if he is convicted.

The prosecution said it had secured additional evidence and brought more charges against Lee, the group's third-generation leader, in the latest warrant request.

South Korea's special prosecutor's office said on Wednesday it had expanded charges against Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee to include hiding the proceeds of a criminal act before it chose to seek a warrant for his arrest.


South Korea's special prosecutor has focused on Samsung Group's relationship with Park, accusing Lee in his capacity as Samsung chief of pledging 43 billion won ($37.7 million) to a business and organisations backed by Park's friend, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for support of a 2015 merger of two Samsung companies.

Both Samsung executives are being investigated on charges of bribery offering, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

Prosecutors are probing whether Samsung had paid Choi to secure state approval for the controversial merger of two Samsung units seen as a key step towards ensuring a smooth power transfer to Lee.

"We will do our best for the truth to be revealed in court", it said. They will share those details during a news briefing on Wednesday. Choi, despite having no government office, has been accused of everything from leaking classified documents to forcing a college to change its admissions criteria so her daughter could attend.

The special prosecution office's mandate to conduct the graft investigation will expire on February 28, unless it is extended.

Also on Thursday, the Seoul Administrative Court rejected a request by the special prosecutor to search the presidential Blue House, which follows an earlier failed attempt to do so.

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