Samsung Heir Arrives at Court to Avert Second Arrest Warrant

Yolanda Curtis
February 17, 2017

President Park Geun-hye was impeached in December following accusations that she allowed her friend Choi Soon-sil to influence government affairs.

The prosecutors now have up 10 days to charge Samsung's boss, but they can seek an extension. If Mr Lee is indicted, a court ruling should be made within three months.

The investigators say that more criminal charges have been made against Lee compared to the last time it sought his arrest.

According to Bloomberg the de facto head of Samsung, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, had been summoned to court as of 6 AM local time on February 17.

Samsung watchers have said Lee's arrest would not affect the day-to-day running of group companies including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, which are run by professional managers, but a prolonged absence could impact longer-term and strategic decision making.

A judge in mid-January declined to issue a warrant for Lee's arrest because of lack of evidence.

But it did not agree to grant a second warrant, for the arrest of Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin, on the grounds that it was hard to recognise the need to detain him.

Although Lee's father, Lee Kung Hee, is officially chairman of Samsung, ill health has forced the younger Lee into a more prominent role in recent years.

Lee Jae-yong has essentially been the head of Samsung Group since his elderly father, chairman by title, was hospitalized in 2014.

A second petition requesting the arrest warrant for Lee was submitted by those in charge of the investigation into the corruption scandal.

Staff moves have also been in limbo.

Samsung was the single biggest donor to the foundations.

"It wouldn't make sense for a company of that size to not function properly just because the owner is away".

At a national committee hearing looking into the scandal past year, Lee said he didn't know Choi under oath, which investigators believe is a lie. It is under pressure for the upcoming launch of its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S8, to be a success. Large, family-controlled conglomerates such as Samsung, which dominate South Korea's economy, are perceived as enjoying lenient treatment from the judicial system-a factor that has contributed to public anger over the scandal.

Both Park and Choi have denied wrongdoing.

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