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Samsung Heir Arrives at Court to Avert Second Arrest Warrant

Bloomberg | Thu,2017-02-16

Jay Y. Lee, the de facto head of Samsung Group, arrived in a Seoul court Thursday as he seeks to avoid a second arrest warrant requested by a special prosecutor.

Seoul Central District Court will decide on the warrant after allegations of concealing criminal profits and hiding assets overseas were added to earlier claims of bribery, embezzlement and perjury. Lee has denied wrongdoing and the decision might not be released until Friday. The prosecutors’ first request was rejected on Jan. 19, with the court citing a lack of evidence.

Lee, who is vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., has become the highest profile business figure drawn into an influence peddling scandal that has already seen President Park Geun-hye impeached. Prosecutors have alleged Samsung paid bribes to a confidante of the president to ensure government support for a 2015 merger of affiliates that tightened Lee’s grip on the chaebol.

If the court grants the arrest warrant, Lee faces the prospect of months in jail while awaiting trial. A total of five executives from South Korea’s biggest conglomerate have been investigated in relation to the scandal with prosecutors also seeking to arrest Samsung Electronics’ President Park Sang-jin.

Samsung declined to comment on the court hearing. The company said on Tuesday it has never made unlawful offers or paid bribes to the country’s president in exchange for favors.

Lee, who’s in line to succeed his ailing father, was questioned for 15 hours Tuesday.

While Lee’s arrest is being sought, special prosecutor’s investigators have been denied access to the Blue House -- South Korea’s traditional seat of power similar to the White House -- to question the nation’s president.

Shares of Samsung Electronics rose 0.7 percent to 1.9 million won as of 10:31 a.m. in Seoul.