A special prosecutor in South Korea is seeking the arrest of Jay Y. Lee, the vice chairman of Samsung, in a corruption scandal that previously led to the impeachment of the country’s president.
The New York Times reported that the special prosecutor alleges Lee was part of a scheme to bribe President Park Geun-hye.
Jay Y. Lee is the defacto head of the conglomerate, as he is the only son of chairman Lee Kun-hee, who is incapacitated. The prosecutor alleges that Jay Y. Lee instructed Samsung subsidiaries to make multimillion-dollar donations to the family of Park’s confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and two foundations that Choi controlled. In exchange, Park allegedly gave government favors.
Jay Y. Lee was questioned by police for more than 20 hours last week. The corruption scandal is attacking the cozy relationship between the family-run chaebol, or business conglomerates, and the government. That relationship has been so tight that the elder Lee was convicted in 1996 of bribery and again of tax evasion in 2009. In both cases, he was not arrested and was later pardoned.
Samsung generated $229 billion in revenue in 2016, and Samsung Electronics accounts for 20 percent of South Korea’s exports.