The court’s decision to allow the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, the heir apparent of Samsung Group, on Friday brought the nation’s largest conglomerate into the biggest management crisis in its 79 years of history, suspending its restructuring plans aimed at a smooth leadership transfer.
Lee was arrested by a special counsel, on bribery and other charges related to the political corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil.
The de facto leader of Samsung is accused of paying nearly $40 million in bribes to Choi in pursuit of President Park’s support for his succession in the company.
Since late last year, Lee has been grilled several times over his alleged role in the scandal.
The 48-year-old, a key suspect, had avoided being arrested last month, with the court rejecting a request by the special counsel, citing insufficient evidence.
But the investigators Tuesday requested again to arrest him with more evidence collected in recent weeks.
Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, is seen in his car heading to the Seoul Detention Center in Uiwang, Gyeonggi Province, Thursday night. (Yonhap)
Samsung employees at its headquarters in southern Seoul (Yonhap)
Samsung Electronics' headquarters in southern Seoul (Yonhap)