Samsung heir facing arrest over bribery claims

James Pearce
Published on:

Korean prosecutors have accused Jay Y. Lee of bribery and embezzlement over 2015 merger in corruption scandal

Jay Y Lee

Samsung vice president Lee Jae-yong (known as Jay Y. Lee) is facing arrest in Korea over allegations including bribery and embezzlement.

Lee, the son and expected successor of Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee, is expected in court tomorrow (18 January 2017) where a judge will decide if he should be arrested for bribery in a scandal that saw President Park Geun-hye impeached by the Korean parliament in November,

Korean prosecutors claim Lee paid bribes of three billion won ($36.55 million) to associates of the president to secure the merger of Samsung’s C&T division with Cheil Industries in 2015. Lee has denied any wrongdoing.

A report from Reuters claims Lee will be held by the court until a district judge reaches a decision on whether he should be prosecuted for the allegations.

"A judge's examination of a suspect normally finishes in 30 minutes at the earliest, but can take longer than two hours for complicated matters, which is likely to be the case," an unnamed court official told the news agency

"Then, after the examination, the judge goes back to his office to review records and evidence and deliberate arguments of the prosecution's side and the suspect's side.

"A final decision is more likely to be made at dawn on Thursday, as there are tons of records, evidence and lots of things to review."

It is another setback for Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturer in terms of volume, and throws the future leadership of the company into question.

In 2016, the Korean manufacturer was forced to recall more than 2.5 million Samsung Galaxy Note 7 handsets after the smartphones began catching fire in the summer.

The recall saw Samsung take a 6.1 trillion won ($5.2 billion) blow to operating profit over three quarters, and was reported widely, damaging the manufacturer’s reputation globally.

Reuters claims Samsung has now identified a battery issues as the cause of the fires, as it looks to recover from the setback. However, Lee’s potential arrest could throw the world’s biggest smartphone-maker into more headlines.