South Korean police on Saturday led Jay Y. Lee, hands bound with rope, into a special prosecutors office after arresting the de facto head of the country’s largest industrial conglomerate in a corruption probe that includes allegations of bribery.
Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., was shown on a YTN television broadcast being led into the office in Seoul around 2:20 p.m. local time after spending his first night in police custody. On Friday, the Seoul Central District Court arrested Lee on a warrant including allegations of bribery, perjury, embezzlement, hiding assets abroad and concealing illegal profits.
Lee has become the highest-profile business figure yet accused in an influence-peddling scandal that has already seen President Park Geun-hye impeached. Prosecutors have cited evidence that Samsung paid bribes to a confidante of the president to ensure government support for a 2015 merger of affiliates that tightened Lee’s grip on the chaebol, as Korea’s dominant business groups are called.
A first trial can take up to six months, according to the Korean criminal code.
Lee has been the acting head of Samsung while his father, Samsung Electronics Co. Chairman Lee Kun Hee has been hospitalized since 2014,
The probe is part of a broader investigation into contributions that dozens of Korean companies gave to Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of Park. The scandal has rocked South Korea, with millions of people taking to the streets in protest. President Park has been impeached and her powers suspended. A separate constitutional court will determine whether she is ultimately removed from office, another tumultuous chapter for a country that became a full-fledged democracy in 1987.