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S.Korean prosecutors request arrest of Samsung heir for bribery charge

Editor: zhangrui 丨Xinhua

01-17-2017 07:26 BJT

SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- South Korean prosecutors on Monday requested the arrest of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the heir apparent of the country's largest family-run conglomerate, for multiple charges including bribery.

Lee Kyu-chul, spokesman for the independent counsel team which is investigating the scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye, told a televised press briefing that the arrest warrant for Lee was sought on charges of bribery, perjury and embezzlement.

The warrant's validity will be determined by a court on Wednesday.

Concerns have emerged about a governance vacuum in Samsung Group before the arrest request announcement, but the spokesman said establishing justice is more important though stabilizing the state's economy.

The push to imprison the de-facto chief of the country's largest chaebol indicates confidence among prosecutors on the proving of cozy ties between the impeached leader and Samsung's heir.

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

The independent counsel team had secured sufficient evidences on complicity between President Park and her decades-long friend, according to the spokesman.

The special prosecutors claimed that Park and Choi had shared private interests, which were significantly proven, saying there would be no problem in indicting the impeached leader for bribery charge.

Samsung made the biggest donations of 20.4 billion won among scores of conglomerates to two Choi-controlled foundations. It signed a 22-billion-won contract with a German company, owned by Choi and her daughter, while contributing 1.63 billion won to a winter sports center managed by Choi's niece.

In return for the financial assistance, Vice Chairman Lee is suspected of getting support from the national pension fund in the July 2015 merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries to create a de-facto holding company.

The merger of two Samsung affiliates was extremely crucial to Lee to inherit the overall management control from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been hospitalized for over two and a half years.

Vice Chairman Lee was also charged with giving a false testimony during the Dec. 6 parliamentary hearing on the presidential scandal as he denied his involvement in the scandal.

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

Three major Samsung executives, who were grilled before the Samsung heir's marathon interrogation last week, will be investigated without detention, the spokesman said.

The spokesman said other large businesses will also be subject to investigations on donations to the Choi-controlled foundations in return for getting favors. (1 South Korean won = 0.00085 U.S. dollar)

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