As part of South Korea's crusade against corruption, Jay Y. Lee the Group chief of Samsung was arrested in connection to a scandal involving many powerful government officials in the country.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee will face charges including concealment of criminal proceeds, perjury, illicit transfer of assets overseas, embezzlement, and bribery. Lee was arrested on Friday morning at the Seoul Detention Centre after waiting there overnight for the court's decision.
Lee's impending arrest comes a day after he was questioned for eight hours by the same Seoul court that previously denied a similar warrant request, citing lack of evidence.
Lee is the de facto boss since his father - who was himself twice convicted of financial crimes - was incapacitated by a heart attack two years ago.
"We acknowledge the cause and necessity of the arrest", a judge said in his ruling.
Lee and Samsung have denied any wrongdoing in the case.
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The special prosecutor's office has focused its investigations on Samsung Group's [SAGR.UL] relationship with Park.
Samsung Group's heir-apparent Lee Jae-Yong, right, leaving after attending a court hearing in Seoul on February 16, 2017.
Following his arrest, the group is widely expected to halt its ongoing restructuring process that was partly aimed at enhancing Lee's control over the group, the observers noted. This is the second time that investigators have requested a detention and inquiry into one of the highest-level political scandals of our times.
Lee is suspected of providing $37.31 million (43 billion won) to businesses and organizations backed by President Park's secret confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for approval of a controversial $8 billion merger of two Samsung companies in 2015. When people took to the streets of Seoul to demand that President Park be ousted, there were also demands for big chaebols heirs like Lee to be arrested after benefiting from alleged favoritism. According to prosecutors, Samsung was the single biggest donor to Choi's foundations, although several other top South Korean firms are also implicated in the scheme.
"But this will be an important opportunity for Samsung Group to sever ties with the past", he said, referring to links between the government and the country's conglomerates, also known as chaebol. Park formally remains the President until the Constitutional Court decides whether to back the parliamentary decision.