Samsung heir facing South Korea arrest

Lee and the Samsung Group deny any wrongdoing. If arrested, Lee would join several close presidential aides awaiting trial behind bars in connection with the scandal.

"We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings", Samsung said in a statement Friday after the judge approved the arrest warrant for Lee. The first warrant for Lee's arrest was issued back in January, but ended up rejected. Choi is accused of influencing government policy and getting rich through extortion and manipulation.

Choi has been charged with using her ties to Park to pressure companies like Samsung to donate money to foundations she operates. He was pardoned by the country's presidents both times.

The court on Thursday said it would wrap up hearings on the impeachment case on Friday next week, sparking expectations of a verdict around 10 March. The president was impeached over a multifaceted corruption scandal in December. But the current scandal - and others - exceed others in sheer scale. There have been massive protests against Park recently with thousands taking to the streets demanding her ouster.

Park is suspended from duty but is still protected by her position pending a final ruling on her impeachment by the Constitutional Court. If she is forced out, a new election would be held within two months to choose her successor.

Lee is far from the first South Korean business leader to face accusations of corruption.

It began again on Sunday with Korean Prosecutors announcing that they planned to Summon Samsung's Heir Lee Jae-yong once again in respect to bribery. The party infighting is another blow to Park.

It is extremely rare in South Korea for a woman to assume control of a family conglomerate. The trappings of the scandal have garnered global attention for their weird details: Choi claims to be channeling the spirit of Park's dead mother and allegedly is the power behind the throne. The newly-formed NCPR was hoping that Ban would join their ranks.

The arrest of Lee Jae-yong, a vice chairman at Samsung Electronics and the only son of the Samsung chair, Lee Kun-hee, will shock the business community. These alleged bribes are said to have totaled almost $38 million, and were allegedly made in exchange for the government looking favorably upon a Samsung business merger. They also are seeking an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin, who oversees the company's external relations. The list of charges against Lee includes embezzlement, bribery, perjury, concealment of criminal proceeds, and illicit transfer of assets overseas.

The company underwent restructuring after Samsung Group chief Lee's father, the former chief, experienced a heart attack three years ago. His arrest may jeopardize the project.

The South Korean government has repeatedly been accused of colluding with the country's big family-owned conglomerates, also referred to as chaebols.

The court, however, decided not to arrest Park.

  • Zachary Reyes