Prosecutors to decide on Samsung heir’s arrest by Sunday

Seoul, Jan 13 (IANS) Prosecutors investigating Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong’s possible involvement in a corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye will decide by Sunday whether to arrest him, media reports said on Friday.

“It appears that a decision on Vice Chairman Lee’s arrest will be made tomorrow or the day after tomorrow,” Yonhap news agency quoted investigation team spokesman Lee Kyu-chul as saying at a press briefing.

Lee Jae-yong returned home on Friday after a marathon questioning session by prosecutors all night over suspicions that the country’s largest family-run conglomerate gave financial support to Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil.

Choi, nicknamed the “female Rasputin”, is being considered the apparent brain behind the plot involving business favours using her close relationship with Park.

The prosecution believes that the Samsung group signed a contract worth $18.6 million with a company based in Germany owned by Choi and also provided financial support for the equestrian training of her 20-year-old daughter.

Samsung also donated $17.3 million to two non-profit foundations operated by Choi.

However, the Samsung chief insisted that they thought the money was given for good causes such as promoting local culture abroad and the sports sector.

It was suspected that the contract was signed in exchange for support from the National Pension Service for a major merger agreement between Samsung’s subsidiaries in 2015.

Samsung admitted the donations but denied that they had been made to secure return favours in the merger process.

Lee Jae-yong took over the reins of the Samsung conglomerate after his father Lee Kun-hee in May 2014 suffered a heart attack, which still keeps him hospitalised and speechless.

The “female Rasputin” case sparked outrage in South Korea and led to Park’s impeachment in December 2016. Park is now waiting for the South Korean constitutional court to decide whether the impeachment vote against her is valid.