Samsung Chief Lee Returned to Prosecutors for Second Day

Georgia ReedFeb 21, 2017

Prosecutors were able to secure Lee's arrest in their second attempt, thanks to new evidence showing President Park's broader involvement in Samsung's family succession plan.

Some conservative commentators are anxious that Lee's arrest could hurt Samsung's businesses and therefore the economy, which relies on such companies for exports and jobs.

Lee has denied wrongdoing, though the BBC reports he has expressed regret that Samsung also "gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career" of the daughter of that Park confidant, Choi Soon-sil. Prosecutors allege that Lee, 48, funded Park's associates as he tried to consolidate control over the sprawling conglomerate founded by his grandfather. On Friday, the Seoul Central District Court arrested Lee on a warrant including allegations of bribery, perjury, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and concealing illegal profits.

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"The biggest problem is that Lee is the one who sets the direction of Samsung as a whole", the fourth group insider said. It also involves South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her suspension from power amid impeachment proceedings - also as a result of bribery schemes involving "dozens of Korean companies".

"Since we've made a decision to dismantle group strategy office, Choi's role is likely to gradually decrease, although we can't say for how much and when", another Samsung executive said.

Just as Samsung announces the Galaxy 8 to be released in 2017, Vice Chair Jay Lee is arrested.

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Samsung was the single biggest donor to the foundations.

The charges also suggest that part of the $36m (or as much as as much as $38 million [43 billion won]) in funds were used to get government support for Lee's succession to the lead of Samsung.

That means that both the head of South Korea's largest conglomerate and the country's president have fallen - at least temporarily - in the widening scandal that revolves around allegations of bribery and influence at the highest levels. The younger Lee will likely follow a similar course and stay away from leadership role once investigators formally bring charges against him. The impeachment of President Park Geun-hye is still waiting for the Constitutional Court to make a final decision.

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"We hope it marks a beginning to end our society's evil practice of cozy ties between government and corporations and move towards a fair country", said Kim Kyoung-soo, a spokesman for Moon Jae-in, a member of the liberal opposition Democratic Party who is leading opinion polls in the presidential race.

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