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Samsung top boss faces arrest

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By Catherine Hardy  with Reuters
Samsung top boss faces arrest

The de-facto head of the Samsung group has been questioned behind closed doors about his alleged role in a corruption scandal that has led parliament to impeach President Park Guen-hye.

48-year-old Jay Y. Lee did not answer questions from reporters on his way into the special prosecutor’s office in Seoul.

He has denied any wrongdoing.

What is he being questioned about?

A special prosecutor said on Monday it would seek a warrant to arrest the third-generation leader of the country’s largest conglomerate on suspicion of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

Lee is suspected of paying bribes worth a total of 43 billion won (34.2 million euros) to organisations linked to a close friend of President Park in a bid to secure the 2015 merger of two affiliates and cement his control of the family business.

Has he been in charge of Samsung long?


Lee has been the de-facto leader of South Korea’s biggest conglomerate since his father, Lee Kun-hee, was incapacitated by a 2014 heart attack.

Has anyone else been indicted?


The chairman of the National Pension Service (NPS) was indicted earlier this week on charges of abuse of power and giving false testimony.

Moon Hyung-pyo was arrested in December after acknowledging ordering the NPS to support the controversial $8 billion dollar merger of two Samsung Group affiliates in 2015.

Officials say they do not seek arrest warrants for three other Samsung Group executives who also underwent questioning.

They say they want to minimise the impact on Samsung’s business.


Samsung workers staged a protest outside the court, calling for Lee to be put in custody.

If the court approves his arrest, he will be detained for 20 days.

Commentators say it would be a blow to the business elite leading South Korea’s most successful company.

President Park Guen-hye

The 64-year-old was impeached last month by parliament over an influence-peddling scandal that has rocked the country.

If the decision is upheld by the Constitutional Court, she could become the country’s first democratically-elected leader to be forced from office early.

Park remains in office. However, she has been stripped of her powers while the court decides her fate.

She has denied any wrongdoing.