Samsung Head Jay Y. Lee was arrested on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal rocking the highest levels of power in South Korea, dealing a fresh blow to the technology giant and standard-bearer for Asia’s fourth-largest economy.
The special prosecutor’s office accuses Samsung Head Lee of bribing a close friend of President Park Geun-hye to gain government favors related to leadership succession at the conglomerate. It said on Friday it will indict him on charges including bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury.
The 48-year-old Samsung Head Lee, scion of the country’s richest family, was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Centre early on Friday after waiting there overnight for the decision. He was being held in a single cell with a TV and desk, a jail official said.
Samsung Head Lee is a suspect in an influence-peddling scandal that led parliament to impeach Park in December, a decision that if upheld by the Constitutional Court would make her the country’s first democratically elected leader forced from office.
Samsung and Lee have denied wrongdoing in the case.
Prosecutors have up to 10 days to indict Lee, Samsung’s third-generation leader, although they can seek an extension. After indictment, a court would be required to make its first ruling within three months.
Prosecutors plan to question Lee again on Saturday.
No decision had been made on whether Lee’s arrest would be contested or whether bail would be sought, a spokeswoman for Samsung Group said.
“We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings,” the Samsung Group said in a brief statement after Lee’s arrest.
The same court had rejected a request last month to arrest Lee, but prosecutors this week brought additional accusations against him.
“We acknowledge the cause and necessity of the arrest,” a judge said in his ruling.
The judge rejected the prosecution’s request to also arrest Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin.
Shares in Samsung Electronics ended Friday down 0.42 percent in a flat wider market.
Ratings agencies did not expect any impact on the flagship firm’s credit ratings, and said Lee’s arrest would accelerate improvements in management transparency and corporate governance.
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