Samsung’s hopes of putting 2016 and the troubles it brought the company behind it in the New Year aren’t panning out. South Korean prosecutors on Monday said they were seeking to arrest Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong in relation to a national corruption scandal.
As The New York Times reports, the executive is accused of instructing Samsung subsidiaries to make payments totaling $36 million to foundations run by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye. In exchange for the payments, Samsung would allegedly get the government’s backing regarding a merger between two Samsung affiliates.
Special prosecutor Park Young-soo labeled the monetary support as bribes from Samsung, adding that Jae-yong embezzled some of the funds from his own companies. The prosecutor, the report notes, has asked a court to issue an arrest warrant for Lee, a process that typically takes a few days to receive (if granted).
A spokesperson for the special prosecutor, Lee Kyu-chul, said they have enough evident to establish South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil as co-conspirators sharing profits.
The National Assembly voted last month to impeach President Park Geun-hye who is already being tried in the Constitutional Court. Prosecutors argue that Park Geun-hye and Choi Soon-sil worked together to collect millions from Samsung and other large businesses via coercion or political favors.
The two have denied any wrongdoing.
Pool photo by Ahn Young-joon