Samsung Vice-Chairman Arrested in Bribery Scandal

Lee Jae-yong, the vice-chairman and heir to the Samsung electronics empire, has been arrested in connection with an ongoing corruption probe.

As reported last month, Lee was suspected of connections to disgraced former South Korean President Park Guen-Hye, whose administration disintegrated in a convoluted multi-generational web of intrigue involving bribes, embezzlement and religious cults.

According to the New York Times:

Mr. Lee, Samsung’s vice chairman, was taken to a jail outside Seoul, the capital, soon after a judge at the Seoul Central District Court issued an arrest warrant early Friday.

He is accused of paying $36 million in bribes to President Park Geun-hye’s secretive confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in return for political favors. Those are alleged to include government support for a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015 that helped Mr. Lee, 48, inherit corporate control from his incapacitated father, Lee Kun-hee, the chairman.

Samsung, whose market capitalization accounts for one-fourth of the value of all listed companies in South Korea, is a potent national symbol of power, wealth and technological innovation. Mr. Lee is the first head of the conglomerate ever to be arrested on corruption charges. Other charges against him include embezzlement, illegal transfer of property abroad and committing perjury during a parliamentary hearing.

Lee Jae-yong is the grandson of the company’s founder and son of the current official chairman, Lee Kun-hee. The elder Lee went on leave from his position in 2014 after a heart attack. Lee Jae-yong, known in the west as Jay Y. Lee, was presumed to be named chairman once his father officially steps down.

Read more at the New York Times.

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