Early Friday morning local time, the special prosecutor’s office in South Korean have called for the arrest of Lee Jae-yong after “newly added criminal charge and new evidence” solidified his initial accusations of bribery, perjury, hiding assets overseas, and embezzlement.
Lee is accused of influencing last year’s impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, as well as paying out over $37 million in bribes to influence a governmental approval for the merger of two Samsung units according to Reuters. The merger was slated to negatively impact minority stockholders while serving Lee and other members of Samsung’s founding family.
Lee inherited an acting vice chairman role from his father, Lee Kun-hee, who was hospitalized in 2014. The 48-year-old billionaire heir is the first Samsung executive to have ever been arrested on criminal charges.
South Korea’s business community will feel the dark shockwaves as the successor to the country’s richest family sits in custody at the Seoul Detention Centre overnight, awaiting a decision. The Samsung Note7 battery scandal alone was enough to concern South Korea’s central bank, claiming it would “potentially undermine economic growth.”
Selling everything from paper products to military equipment, Samsung’s reputation in South Korea is comparable to a figure that held the leadership of Apple’s Tim Cook, the deep national roots of GE’s Jeffrey R. Immelt and the influence of Wells Fargo, Chevron, McDonald’s, and Walmart combined.
This is not the first time Lee avoided arrest, managing to dismiss prosecutors’ early January request citing lack of evidence.
Prosecutors have til February 28, barring an extension from parliament, to indict Lee. It would also help the team bring bribery charges against President Park, whose powers were suspended in December by parliament the AP reports.
Lee’s father has also been convicted of tax evasion and embezzlement but avoided imprisonment. His 2008 conviction was pardoned a year later by the president after a promise to help South Korea’s bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic.