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Seoul Court Considers Arrest of Samsung De Facto Head

19 January 2017

The de-facto head of the Samsung group has been questioned behind closed doors about his alleged role in a corruption scandal that has led parliament to impeach President Park Guen-hye. A court will still have to determine whether to approve the warrant, which was announced by prosecutors in a briefing on Monday.

The company had no comment on the hearing Wednesday. Samsung shares, which have been near record highs, fell 2.1 percent to 1,833,000 won at the close in Seoul.

This link has been proven by several documents obtained by the investigators, said the spokesman of the prosecution, Lee Kyu-Chul, at a press conference held today in Seoul.

Lee can apply for bail or appeal if the court grants the arrest warrant.

Lee's arrest on a bribery charge would further corner Park. The team said Lee's arrest is warranted because there's a risk he could destroy evidence.

Samsung insists it "did not make contributions in order to receive favors", and says it's confident "the court will make the appropriate judgment on this matter". She is awaiting the Constitutional Court's decision on whether her impeachment will be upheld.

Although Samsung has often been investigated on corruption allegations, neither Mr.

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Samsung Electronics is South Korea's biggest and most valuable company.

Although Lee is technically vice chairman of the group, he has in effect been running the company for nearly three years while his ailing father lies unconscious in the hospital. Samsung is also seeking to recover from last year's botched debut of the Note 7, a smartphone that was discontinued after it showed a tendency to catch fire and explode. The scandal has proven a deep and odd one for the company and country, which, according to charges, involves the funneling of money to Choi Soon-sil, the daughter of a religious leader said to have sway over Park. "Samsung represents the country's economy".

The political scandal centres on President Park Geun-Hye's secret confidante Choi Soon-Sil.

Prosecutors have been looking into whether Samsung's support for foundations and a company backed by Choi was linked to the National Pension Service's (NPS) 2015 decision to support a controversial $US8 billion ($11 billion) merger of Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc.

Samsung gave the biggest donations to Ms. Choi's establishments, totaling $17 million.

Many external investors opposed the deal, saying it wilfully undervalued one of the firms involved. Moon Hyung-pyo, the chairman of the pension fund, was indicted on Monday on charges that he illegally pressed the fund to back that merger when he was South Korea's health and welfare minister. "In particular, we find it hard to accept the special prosecutor's argument that Samsung has made improper requests related to the merger of Samsung affiliates or the leadership transition".