Samsung Chief Lee Returned to Prosecutors for Second Day

  • Police keep Lee in custody second night in corruption probe
  • Lee spent about 8 hours at prosecutors office on Saturday

South Korea’s Family-Run Conglomerates Are Under Pressure

Samsung Group’s Jay Y. Lee was taken back to a special prosecutor’s office for a second day following another night in police custody as part of a corruption probe that has widened to include South Korea’s largest industrial conglomerate.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., was shown on a YTN television broadcast being led into the office in Seoul around 9:50 a.m. local time. Lee was inside the office for about eight hours the day before. On Friday, the Seoul Central District Court arrested Lee on a warrant including allegations of bribery, perjury, embezzlement, hiding assets abroad and concealing illegal profits.

Lee has been the acting head of Samsung while his father, Samsung Electronics Co. Chairman Lee Kun Hee, has been hospitalized since 2014. The probe could eventually interfere with the son’s ability to take full control of the group after his father formally steps down.

As head of a conglomerate that is the world’s largest maker of smartphones, Lee is the highest-profile business figure yet accused in an influence-peddling scandal that has already seen President Park Geun-hye impeached. Prosecutors have cited evidence that Samsung paid bribes to a confidante of the president to ensure government support for a 2015 merger of affiliates that tightened Lee’s grip on the chaebol, as Korea’s dominant business groups are called.

The probe is part of a broader investigation into contributions that dozens of Korean companies gave to Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of Park. The scandal has rocked South Korea, with millions of people taking to the streets in protest. President Park has been impeached and her powers suspended. A separate constitutional court will determine whether she is ultimately removed from office, another tumultuous chapter for a country that became a full-fledged democracy in 1987.

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