South Korea's prosecutors are seeking a warrant to arrest Samsung's chief executive

Courtney Goldsmith
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South Korean prosecutors are seeking a warrant for Lee's arrest
South Korean prosecutors are seeking a warrant for Lee's arrest (Source: Getty)

The chief executive of Samsung has been accused of bribing a friend of President Park Geun-hye, and today South Korea's special prosecutor's office said it is seeking a warrant to his arrest.

Jay Y. Lee was questioned for 22 hours last week as prosecutors looked into a corruption scandal that revolved around Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president's, Reuters reported. Park, the country's first democratically elected leader, was impeached last month but remains in office.

Lee has been accused of paying 43bn won (£30.2m) in bribes to Choi in addition to embezzlement and perjury.

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Seoul's central district court said a hearing would be held Wednesday on whether or not to approve the warrant.

"The special prosecutor's office, in making this decision to seek an arrest warrant, determined that while the country's economic conditions are important, upholding justice takes precedence," Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the office, told a media briefing.

Samsung did not have an immediate comment.

In 2015, the National Pension Service supported a controversial $8bn merger of two Samsung affiliates. Investigators are looking into whether Samsung's support of Choi's business and foundations were connected to the merger.

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Samsung has acknowledged providing funds to the three institutions but has repeatedly denied accusations of lobbying to push through the merger.

Choi is in detention and on trial after being accused of colluding with Park to pressure big businesses, including Samsung, to contribute to non-profit foundations that backed the president's initiatives.

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