The de-facto head of Samsung faces arrest on charges of bribing South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye and a confidante.
The call for Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s vice chairman and the only son of its incapacitated chairman, is part of a larger investigation into alleged corruption involving senior government officials and large South Korean corporations.
Samsung is one of 53 big businesses accused of involvement in the case, which could ultimately result in the impeachment of President Park if allegations are all proven to be true.
South Korea’s special prosecutor has accused Samsung’s Lee Kun-hee, who has been running Samsung since 2014, of instructing corporate subsidiaries to make payments of around $36 million to a confidante and two associated foundations. Some of this money was reportedly embezzled.
Samsung potentially stands to gain easier ownership transfer of the company from father to son.
“We have enough evidence to establish President Park and [confidante] Choi Soon-sil as co-conspirators sharing profits” in a bribery scheme, a spokesperson for the special prosecutor said on Monday.
Samsung has repeatedly been investigated for corruption allegations over the years, although neither Lee Kun-hee or his father have spent any time in jail. Samsung has denied involvement in any bribery or in making, “improper requests related to the merger of Samsung affiliates or the leadership transition.”
In terms of Lee Kun-hee’s possible arrest, special prosecutor Park Young-soo has asked a Seoul court to issue an arrest warrant, although the New York Times notes that it, “usually takes a few days for a court to decide whether to grant such a warrant.”