AFP-Jiji SEOUL (AFP-Jiji) — Prosecutors on Friday arrested the de facto head of South Korea’s largest conglomerate, Samsung, on bribery and other charges related to a political corruption scandal that triggered the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
In a fresh blow to the electronics giant’s corporate image, a district court cited new evidence in approving the arrest warrant against Vice Chairman Lee Jae Yong, who oversees the family-run electronics giant in the absence of his ailing father.
Among other allegations, Lee is accused of paying nearly $40 million in bribes to a confidante of Park’s to secure policy favors.
“It is acknowledged that it is necessary to arrest [Lee] in light of a newly added criminal charge and new evidence,” a court spokesman said in a statement.
Shares of many Samsung units took a hit on the Seoul stock market following the news, with the group’s flagship Samsung Electronics sliding 0.4 percent. Its de facto holdings firm, Samsung C&T, dropped 2 percent and another key unit, Samsung Life Insurance, fell 1.4 percent.
“We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings,” the company said in a statement.
Lee was already being held at a detention center after appearing in court Thursday as judges deliberated whether to issue an arrest warrant. He will remain in custody as he awaits a trial likely to begin within a few months.
Lee, the son of the Samsung group boss Lee Kun Hee, has been quizzed several times over his alleged role in the scandal that has rocked the nation.
The 48-year-old, described as a key suspect in the scandal, narrowly avoided being formally arrested last month, after the court ruled there was insufficient evidence.
But prosecutors on Tuesday made a second bid, saying they had collected more evidence in recent weeks.
His arrest, the first for a Samsung chief, will send shock waves through the group, which is a major part of the South Korean economy and includes the world’s largest smartphone maker, Samsung Electronics.Speech