Sam­sung’s de facto head,

The Washington Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY ANNA FIFIELD

Lee Jae-yong, was ar­rested in Seoul on charges of bribery over his al­leged role in an ex­plo­sive cor­rup­tion scan­dal that has riv­eted South Korea.

kuala lumpur — Sam­sung’s de facto head, Lee Jae-yong, was ar­rested in Seoul on Fri­day morn­ing on charges of bribery over his al­leged role in an ex­plo­sive cor­rup­tion scan­dal that has riv­eted South Korea.

The 48-year-old heir ap­par­ent to the Sam­sung em­pire was taken into cus­tody af­ter the courts, which had re­jected a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor’s first re­quest, granted a se­cond re­quest to is­sue a war­rant for his de­ten­tion.

That means that both the head of South Korea’s largest con­glom­er­ate and the coun­try’s pres­i­dent have fallen — at least tem­po­rar­ily — in the widen­ing scan­dal that re­volves around al­le­ga­tions of bribery and in­flu­ence at the high­est lev­els.

“The ra­tio­nale for and the ne­ces­sity of his ar­rest is ac­knowl­edged con­sid­er­ing the new charges and ad­di­tional ev­i­dence col­lected,” Seoul Cen­tral District Court said in a text mes­sage sent to re­porters, ac­cord­ing to the Yon­hap News Agency.

In a one-line state­ment, Sam­sung said: “We will do our best to en­sure that the truth is re­vealed in fu­ture court pro­ceed­ings.”

Prose­cu­tors added charges of hid­ing crim­i­nal pro­ceeds and vi­o­lat­ing the law on trans­fer­ring as­sets over­seas to their ini­tial charges against Lee of bribery, em­bez­zle­ment and per­jury. In De­cem­ber, the court said that prose­cu­tors had not made a suf­fi­cient case for Lee’s de­ten­tion, an in­terim vic­tory for Sam­sung.

The case re­lates to an ev­er­widen­ing po­lit­i­cal scan­dal re­volv­ing around Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye and her se­cret con­fi­dante, Choi Soon-sil, who is ac­cused of prof­it­ing off her re­la­tion­ship with the pres­i­dent.

The Na­tional As­sem­bly voted in De­cem­ber to im­peach Park over her al­leged role in the case, lead­ing her to be sus­pended from of­fice while the Con­sti­tu­tional Court de­cides whether to ap­prove her im­peach­ment. Its rul­ing is ex­pected early next month.

Choi, who is on trial for bribery, co­er­cion and abuse of power and has de­nied all charges, is al­leged to have ex­tracted money from ma­jor South Korean busi­nesses as pay­ment for us­ing her con­nec­tions to win fa­vor­able treat­ment from the gov­ern­ment for the com­pa­nies.

Sam­sung — upon Lee’s or­der — is ac­cused of pay­ing about $36 mil­lion in bribes to Choi in ex­change for the gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for a cru­cial merger of two Sam­sung af­fil­i­ates in 2015.

Al­though Lee is tech­ni­cally vice chair­man of the group, he has in ef­fect been run­ning the com­pany for al­most three years while his ail­ing fa­ther lies un­con­scious in the hospi­tal.

Many of the al­le­ga­tions in the case re­volve around the Lee fam­ily’s sus­pected ef­forts to keep con­trol of the cor­po­rate be­he­moth.

In re­turn for the $36 mil­lion in pay­ments, Choi al­legedly put pres­sure on au­thor­i­ties to ap­prove the $8 bil­lion merger of two Sam­sung units, part of a plan to strengthen the fam­ily’s hold on the group, which it con­trols through a com­plex web of cross-share­hold­ings, de­spite own­ing only a tiny stake of it.

The Na­tional Pen­sion Ser­vice, a ma­jor Sam­sung share­holder, is sus­pected of sup­port­ing the merger on Choi’s in­struc­tion. The head of the ser­vice, a for­mer health min­is­ter, has been in­dicted in re­la­tion to the scan­dal.

At a par­lia­men­tary hear­ing in De­cem­ber, Lee de­nied be­ing in­volved in any bribery scheme but ad­mit­ted that Sam­sung had given a $900,000 horse to Choi’s daugh­ter, an Olympic eques­trian hope­ful.

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