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Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested amid bribery allegations

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 16/2/2017 By Associated Press

The billionaire heir to Samsung has been arrested following allegations of bribery and other charges in connection to a massive corruption scandal.

The Seoul central district court issued a warrant on Friday morning local time to arrest Lee Jae-yong, 48, a vice chairman at Samsung Electronics and the only son of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee.

Prosecutors have accused Mr Lee of handing bribes worth $36m to President Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil to win government favours for a smooth leadership transition.

They are also investigating Mr Lee on allegations of embezzlement of Samsung funds, hiding assets overseas and lying under oath during a parliamentary hearing.

The court said new criminal suspicion and additional evidence showed that there were enough reasons to take Mr Lee into custody.

Lee Jae-yong enters a Seoul court for hearings in Seoul, South KoreaCredit: Barcroft

Prosecutors can detain him for up to 20 days before formally indicting him.

Mr Lee avoided arrest last month when the court dismissed the prosecutors' request citing the lack of evidence.

The court dismissed prosecutors' request to arrest Park Sang-jin, a president at Samsung Electronics overseeing external relations, saying that it was difficult to justify Mr Park's arrest given his position and role within the company.

The court's decision will likely embolden the special prosecution team, which has less than two weeks to investigate the scandal, unless the parliament extends the end-of-month deadline.

It would also help the team bring bribery charges against Ms Park Geun-hye, whose powers were suspended in December by parliament.

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong arrested amid bribery allegations

Lee Kun-Hee, chairman of South Korea's largest group Samsung, speaks during a press conferenceCredit: AFP

She is awaiting a decision by the Constitutional Court on whether she will be permanently removed from the presidency.

Samsung has denied that it has offered bribes or sought any wrongful favors from the president. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Lee's father and ailing Samsung chair has been convicted in the past of embezzlement, tax evasion and breach of trust but was never imprisoned.

After his latest conviction in 2008, he was pardoned a year later by the president, who said he would help South Korea's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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