Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (Front) enters a Seoul court for hearings in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 16, 2017. The heir apparent of Samsung Group, South Korea's largest family-run conglomerate, on Thursday appeared in hearings at a Seoul court, which will decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for him sought by prosecutors. (Xinhua/Lee Sang-ho)
A South Korean court on Friday issued an arrest warrant for the heir apparent of Samsung Group, the country's largest family-controlled conglomerate, on bribery charges linked to the corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
A judge at the Seoul Central District Court said that there is enough justification to issue the warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong given the newly added criminal charges and newly collected evidences.
The princeling of South Korea's richest family faced an immediate incarceration at a detention center south of Seoul, where he had been waiting for the announcement made at about 5:40 a.m. local time.
The Samsung heir was eventually detained in the second attempt by prosecutors independently investigating the scandal that could topple the impeached leader. President Park is awaiting the constitutional court's ruling on the impeachment motion that is forecast to be made before the middle of March.
The independent counsel team made its first request to arrest Vice Chairman Lee, which was denied on Jan. 19 by the Seoul court for lack of evidence. At the time, it was sought on charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.
This time around, two charges were added to the Samsung heir, including hiding assets overseas and concealing the proceeds of criminal acts.
Lee was charged with paying 43.3 billion won (38 million U.S. dollars) in bribes to President Park's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, who is at the center of the influence-peddling scandal and now is in custody, in return for political favors in the controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung units seen as crucial to the power transfer.
The merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was extremely crucial to the Samsung's third-generation leader to inherit the management control from his father Lee Kun-hee who was incapacitated in 2014 for heart attack.
Meanwhile, the warrant to detain Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin was denied for his limited authority, position and role in the case.