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Samsung embroiled in South Korea money and power scandal

19 January, 2017, 00:54 | Author: Abraham Jackson

A court here could issue an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong as early as Wednesday in connection with the influence-peddling scandal upending South Korean business and politics.

The arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong was dismissed by the court, which made a marathon deliberation for nearly 15 hours.

The investigation team said they will carry out their investigation into three other senior Samsung executives, including Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung, without detention. He declined to disclose the exact amount. Choi, however, has since been jailed and is facing trial.

If Mr. Lee is arrested, it will be a milestone in South Korea's efforts to fight corruption involving the country's powerful family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebol.

Investigators questioned Jay Y. Lee for 22 hours last week as a suspect in the scandal which led to parliament impeaching Park in December and throwing the country into crisis. They also believe that those payments were bribes in exchange for Park's support of the merger of two of Samsung's affiliates, which would then form a de-facto holding company.

Many are angered over allegations that the national pension fund was pressured to support a Samsung merger created to help the Lee family's succession plan. 53 large businesses in all are being accused of bribing the office of the president, all which deny such allegations, claiming the victim card.

Samsung has argued that the request for the arrest warrant was hard to understand and was unjustified where there was good ground for legal arguments, and that it could hurt its business and the national economy.

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It centres on Park's secret confidante, Choi Soon-Sil, who is accused of using her ties with the president to coerce top local firms to "donate" almost $70 million to dubious non-profit foundations which she used for her personal benefit. Lee Kyu-chul, the special prosecutor's spokesman, responded, "We determined that establishing justice is far more important".

The spokesman said Lee was charged with having provided about 43 billion won (36 million USA dollars) for Park's longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil.

The court's decision keeps Mr.

In addition to the perjury charge, prosecutors requested the detention warrant for an embezzlement charge.

In the near term, the bribery charge that just hit de facto Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong may not have a jarring impact on the Korean conglomerate. President Park has been already impeached and her powers suspended.

Samsung issued a statement on Monday denying that it paid bribes or made "improper requests related to the merger of Samsung affiliates or the leadership transition".

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