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Samsung Boss Arrested on Bribery Charges

Samsung’s top boss, Jay Y. Lee, has been arrested by South Korean authorities on charges of bribery.

Jay Y. Lee
Jay Y. Lee

A court today ruled South Korea’s special prosecutor had enough evidence to arrest and detain Lee, who took over in September as Samsung’s chief to replace his ailing father. The special prosecutor in the case is accusing Lee of being part of the corruption scandal that caused the nation’s president, Park Geun-hye, to be temporarily impeached. Park is now on trial at the Constitutional Court to decide if her presidency should be terminated.

Lee is being questioned about the millions of dollars in donations Samsung made to two foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of President Park. The special prosecutor believes the donations were bribes in exchange for governmental support of a merger between two Samsung affiliates. It is being alleged Park aided Choi in took millions of dollars from a number of companies in exchange for political favors.

“I will again in good faith tell the truth during the special prosecutor’s interrogation today,” Lee told reporters before being taken into custody.

Lee testified at a National Assembly hearing in December, 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.

Samsung was unavailable for comment about Lee’s arrest and has refused to discuss what it will do if Lee is convicted.

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