South Korea’s special prosecutor is seeking the arrest of Samsung’s top boss, Jay Y. Lee, in connection with the corruption scandal involving the country’s disgraced president, Park Geun-hy.
A hearing has been set for Wednesday at which time the prosecutor will petition the court for an arrest warrant on allegations including bribery and embezzlement. According to a report from Bloomberg, even if the warrant is not granted, the prosecutors office will continue to investigate Lee’s alleged involvement, which could eventually lead to an indictment.
Samsung has had little to say about the matter, but did release this brief statement on Monday: “We can’t accept the prosecutor’s argument that we made illegal requests associated with the merger and management succession. We believe the court will make a wise decision.”
Samsung has refused to discuss what it will do if Lee is convicted, however.
According to Bloomberg, executives running key divisions of the company could take over the role as CEO. There is also a sister, hotel executive Lee Boo-jin but, as Bloomberg points out, it is less likely she will be chosen given “the way the nation’s patriarchal empires are run.”
Lee, who took over in September as Samsung’s chief, officially replacing his ailing father, has been asked to account for the multimillion-dollar donations Samsung made to two foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of President Park Geun-hy. The special prosecutor believes the donations were bribes in exchange for political favors.
It is being alleged Park aided Choi in extorting millions of dollars from a number of companies. The belief that the president was involved caused the National Assembly’s to vote for her impeachment last month. Park is now on trial at the Constitutional Court to decide if her presidency should be terminated.
Lee testified at a National Assembly hearing last month, saying he was not involved in the decision to give money to Choi. He hinted that the donations were not voluntary, meaning Samsung was a victim of extortion and did not, in fact, pay bribes in exchange for political favors.