S. Korean Authorities Plan to Arrest Samsung Heir on Bribery Charges

Posted by at 11:24 am on January 16, 2017

Prosecutors in South Korea plan to arrest Lee Jae-yong, the heir to Samsung’s massive arms of businesses.

The special prosecutor’s office is recommending Lee be charged with bribery, embezzlement and perjury, though the warrant must be approved by a Korean court before it can be served. The bribery charges pertain to alleged actions that took place in 2015 between Lee and President Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s leader.

Lee is said to have paid Park’s government a total of $36 million in bribes in order to facilitate government approval of the merger of two lower Samsung affiliates. The merger helped pave the way for Lee’s succession plan, which has been in the works for several years. Samsung is a family run business, though it is also publicly traded.

If Lee is arrested and held, three co-CEOs will continue to run Samsung’s day-to-day business operations, but Lee’s path to succession will become much less clear.

President Park has already been impeached by the Korean government, which is weighing whether or not to remove her from office. It appears Park may be the real target here.

“We believe the bribery is linked to the president,” said a spokesperson for the special prosecutor’s office.

Park is said to have profited from widespread corruption since taking office. Lee’s arrest would be another black mark in Samsung’s book, which has suffered in recent months from the Note7 recall.

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