A court in South Korea has denied a request from special prosecutors to arrest the acting head of Samsung over alleged corruption and bribery charges.
Lee Kun-hee, Samsung’s vice chairman and the only son of its incapacitated chairman, had been accused of using Samsung subsidiaries to make possible bribery-related payments of $36 million as part of a scandal involving the country’s president Park Geun-hye and a confidante.
“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 this week.
Lee’s arrest would have seen him charged with bribery, embezzlement and perjury, although the arrest warrant was refused but the Seoul district court, after 18 hours of deliberation.
“We appreciate the fact that the merits of this case can now be determined without the need for detention,” Samsung said in a statement earlier today.
Samsung has repeatedly been investigated over corruption allegations over the years, although neither Lee Kun-hee or his father have ever spent any time in jail as a result.
It’s not yet clear how the refusal to arrest Samsung’s vice chairman may impact on the impeachment of South Korea’s President Park. If forced out of office, this would be the first time such a thing has happened to a president in South Korea’s history.
The special prosecutor’s office says that it “deeply regretted” the court’s ruling to turn down an arrest warrant, and will continue to investigate the scandal.