South Korean court dismisses arrest warrant for Samsung head

19 Jan 2017

Jay Y Lee, Samsung vice-chairperson. Image: GongTo/Shutterstock

The ongoing political scandal in South Korea has seen Samsung head Jay Y Lee survive attempts for an arrest warrant – for now.

Allegations over bribery and embezzlement have swirled around Samsung’s de facto leader Jay Y Lee for a while now, but so far, the South Korean’s worst-case scenario has been avoided.

That’s because a South Korean court has denied an arrest warrant for the businessman, though prosecutors say they’re not finished pursuing him just yet.

Towards the end of 2016, which had already been a year to forget for Samsung, the company started getting dragged into an ongoing South Korean presidential scandal, which has led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Officially the company’s vice-chairperson, Lee is perhaps the most prominent person at the company following his father’s heart attack back in 2014.

Questioned behind closed doors at the arrest warrant hearing, Lee’s relatively good news has been tempered by legal analysts’ view that he will likely still face the same charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

According to Reuters, the special prosecutor’s office said it would be continuing its probe but had not decided whether to make another arrest warrant request, and the setback would not change its plans to investigate other conglomerates.

A spokesperson said the prosecution was unconvinced by the Samsung chief’s argument that he was a victim of coercion due to pressure from the president, and several other Samsung officials are also in the prosecutor’s crosshairs.

Lee is alleged to have engaged in a number of instances of bribery and embezzlement worth a total of 43bn won (€34m).

Samsung headquarters were raided on 8 November to investigate whether it gave millions to a German company owned by Park’s confidant, Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the heart of the scandal.

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic