Samsung scion faces arrest again

SEOUL • South Korean prosecutors are again seeking to arrest Samsung Group's Mr Lee Jae Yong, citing new allegations of bribery and dealing another blow to a business empire mired in a nationwide graft scandal.

Investigators want Mr Lee taken into custody, after a first try last month was rejected by a court due to a lack of proof, said Mr Hong Jung Seok, a spokesman for the special prosecutor's team overseeing the probe.

Prosecutors will today outline specific reasons for going after the heir apparent at Samsung for a second time, with a court hearing on the warrant set for tomorrow.

Korea's biggest corporation and Mr Lee lie at the heart of an investigation into influence- peddling that has already led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun Hye.

The probe into whether Samsung paid for political favours could complicate succession plans at the electronics-to-finance conglomerate that is also the economy's biggest driver.

"It looks like the special prosecutor (office) is pretty confident about the new evidence it must have found," said Hana law firm attorney Kang Shin Up. "But without questioning President Park, I still doubt if the court can accept the arrest warrant this time."

Special prosecutors have been denied access to the Blue House - South Korea's traditional seat of power similar to the White House - to question Ms Park.

Mr Lee is in line to succeed his ailing father.

Samsung Group, which oversees nearly 60 affiliate companies, has denied allegations that it provided financial aid to Ms Park's confidante Choi Soon Sil in return for political favours.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 15, 2017, with the headline 'Samsung scion faces arrest again'. Print Edition | Subscribe