Samsung chief faces long day as South Korean court weighs arrest warrant

Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:37am EST
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By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) - The head of South Korea's giant Samsung Group faces a long day in court on Wednesday as a judge decides whether he should be arrested for bribery in a corruption scandal that has engulfed President Park Geun-hye's administration.

Investigators questioned Jay Y. Lee for 22 hours last week as a suspect in the scandal which led to parliament impeaching Park in December and throwing the country into crisis.

Park, 64, remains in office but has been stripped of her powers while the Constitutional Court decides whether to make her the country's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.

She is likely to undergo "face-to-face" questioning by early next month, the special prosecutor's spokesman said.

The prosecutor's office has accused Lee, 48, of paying bribes totaling 43 billion won ($36.55 million) to organizations linked to Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president who is at the center of the scandal, to secure the 2015 merger of two affiliates and cement his control of the family business.

Lee, who has denied wrongdoing, is also accused of embezzlement and perjury. Lee's lawyer, Lee Jeong-ho, declined to comment.

Seoul Central District Court will hold the hearing to decide on his arrest warrant. A court official told Reuters that Lee and his lawyer would attend the hearing.

A spokesman for the special prosecutor's team said Lee would then be held in detention until the court had made its ruling.   Continued...

FILE PHOTO Jay Y. Lee, the only son of Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee and the company's vice chairman, attends the 2015 HO-AM Prize ceremony which was established by Lee Kun-hee, in Seoul, South Korea, June 1, 2015. REUTERS/Cho Seong-joon/Pool/File photo