Korean Court Rejects Arrest Warrant Request Against Samsung Heir
The head of Samsung avoided being sent to jail on Tuesday after Korean prosecutors failed to persuade a Seoul court to approve their request for an arrest warrant amid new fraud allegations against him, BBC News reported.
Lee Jae-yong, the grandson of Samsung founder and the current head of the conglomerate, walked out of the courtroom to await an eventual trial as a free man.
He was sentenced to five years in 2017 for bribing the best friend of then-President Park Geun-hy to gain government support for the 2005 merger of two of Samsung subsidiaries, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries - a move described by the prosecutors as a way to gain greater control of the group.
He was released in 2018 after having served one year but now prosecutors hit Lee with new accusations of accounting fraud and stock manipulation regarding the same merger.
According to Reuters, the prosecution also alleged he contributed to the inflating of the value of one of Cheil Industries’ major shareholders, Samsung Biologics.
The Samsung “Crowned Prince” apologized last month for his management’s wrongdoings.
“Sometimes it failed to meet the public's expectations, Lee wrote in a statement published on the company website. “The law and ethics were not strictly followed. There was also a lack of communication and empathy with society.”
According to Reuters, before their father’s hospitalization in 2014, Lee Jae-Yong and his sisters held only little of the company’s most profitable branch, Samsung Electronic, and have since sought to win control of the entire group.
Legal proceedings are far from over for Lee Jae-Yong, as the fraud investigation against him and more than a hundred Samsung officials and a retrial for the previous bribery charges are hanging over his head
The Supreme Court overturned last August the suspension of his jail sentence and ordered a retrial of the whole case. A controversy around the designated judge delayed the retrial to possibly next year, according to Bloomberg.
Lee Jae-Yong ranks fourth on Forbes’ Korea’s Richests List and his net worth is evaluated to US$6,6 billion.