Samsung heir Jay Y Lee arrested for bribery

Jay Y Lee, co-vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co, center, sits in a car as he leaves the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday. (Bloomberg photo)

Samsung Group’s Jay Y Lee was formally arrested on allegations of bribery, perjury and embezzlement, an extraordinary step that jeopardises the executive’s ascent to the top role at the world’s biggest smartphone maker.

The Seoul Central District Court issued the warrant for Lee’s arrest early Friday. Including procedural steps and appeals, it may take as long as 18 months for a trial and verdict. The decision was made because of the risk that he might destroy evidence or flee, a court spokesperson said.

Investigators are looking into whether the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co was involved in providing as much as 43 billion won (US$38 million) to benefit a close friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in exchange for government support of his management succession. Prosecutors allege that Lee, 48, funded Park’s associates as he tried to consolidate control over the sprawling conglomerate founded by his grandfather.

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