South Korean court denies arrest warrant request for Samsung heir

WION Web Team
South Korea Published: Jun 09, 2020, 07:14 AM(IST)

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group heir arrives at Seoul Central District Court. Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

He served in jail for about one year until February 2018 for his role in a bribery scandal in which he was accused of giving horses as gifts to win support from the government of former President Park Geun-Hye for the merger.

A South Korean court on Tuesday denied an arrest warrant request for Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee after prosecutors accused him of accounting fraud and stock manipulation.

The ruling provided temporary relief for the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics. But he may face further pressure from the case at a time when the world's top maker of smartphones and memory chips contends with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on demand.

Prosecutors on Thursday asked the court to issue an arrest warrant against Lee, culminating a probe into accounting fraud and a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates that they said helped facilitate Lee's plan to assume greater control of the group.

After the hearing, he is expected to head to a detention centre to await the judge's decision, expected on Monday or early Tuesday.

Misconduct Allegations

Samsung on Friday denied the allegation of stock-manipulation against Lee, saying it was "beyond common sense" to claim Lee was involved in the decision-making.

In a further statement over the weekend, the group said the lengthy probe is weighing on management, which is in a “crisis” at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and US-China trade disputes are adding to the uncertainty.

The company declined to make Lee available for comment.

This won’t be an unfamiliar process for Lee, nor will it be the end of his legal troubles if the prosecutors’ request is denied. 

He served in jail for about one year until February 2018 for his role in a bribery scandal in which he was accused of giving horses as gifts to win support from the government of former President Park Geun-Hye for the merger.

The merger increased his control of the group, and of its crown jewel, Samsung Electronics Co, South Korea's biggest company. His father, Lee Kun-hee, has been ailing for some time.

"If he is arrested, this will further hurt the reputation of Lee and Samsung. There will more questions about his legitimacy as the CEO and successor of the company," Chang Sea-jin, a business professor at Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology.

"The public would think, 'Oh he may have done something wrong again."

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