Samsung Heir Jay Lee Indicted

The heir to the Samsung empire and four other top executives from the world's biggest smartphone maker were indicted today on multiple charges including bribery and embezzlement, South Korean prosecutors said.

This marks Lee Jae-yong's fourth appearance before the special prosecutor since he was arrested for bribery charges on February 17.

Lee was arrested earlier this month and the laying of formal charges against him and his colleagues makes them nearly certain to face trial, casting new uncertainty over South Korea's biggest firm as it seeks to recover from a humiliating recall.

The planned indictment comes less than two weeks after a South Korean court approved an arrest warrant requested by the prosecutor, whose first attempt to put Lee in jail failed. That would mean that they could face trial, which could take 18 months, although Bloomberg reported that prosecutors are pushing for a quicker three-month timeframe.

Samsung has denied allegations it made an unlawful offer or paid a bribe to the president or Park-confidante Choi Soon-sil in return for political favors, including support for the merger of Cheil Industries Inc. and Samsung C&T Corp.

The indictment of Lee, who has been effectively running the conglomerate since his father was hospitalized nearly three years ago, is another blow to Samsung, already reeling from the embarrassing recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

A Samsung Group spokeswoman declined to comment on the charges. That deal was opposed by activist investor Paul Elliott Singer. Shares in Samsung Electronics were up 0.8 percent at 2:52 p.m.in Seoul.

  • Carolyn Briggs