South Korean court rejects Samsung boss arrest

The arrest warrant on Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong for bribery charges has been rejected by the court due to the legal contentiousness of the case and lack of reason to do so.
Written by Cho Mu-Hyun, Contributing Writer

An arrest warrant for Samsung boss Lee Jae-yong, who faces bribery, embezzlement, and perjury charges, has been rejected by a South Korean court, citing legal contentiousness and lack or reasoning in its decision.

The Seoul Central District Court's decision at dawn on Thursday will allow the 48-year-old, who has been waiting in a detention center in Seoul, to go home, much to the relief of Samsung, which cited leadership vacuum and lack of evidence against the arrest.

In a statement, judge Cho Eui-yeon said it was difficult to acknowledge the necessity and substantiality of the arrest at the current stage after reviewing the proof gathered by the prosecutors so far and due to the legal contentiousness of the issue.

Samsung said it appreciated "the fact that the merits of this case can be now be determined without the need for detention".

The judge reviewed the request for an arrest warrant against Lee -- who was grilled by prosecutors for 22 hours Friday -- for 18 hours since early Wednesday morning.

The allegations against Lee were part of the corruption scandal in South Korea which led to President Park Geun-hye being impeached.

The South Korean tech giant allegedly paid around $40 million in bribes to Choi Soon-shil, who has been jailed since the scandal and is a close friend of Park. Samsung allegedly paid her to gain government support in a controversial merger between two of its affiliates.

Prosecutors believe Lee either knew about or orchestrated the bribes, and embezzled Samsung funds to pay Choi while lying at committee hearing last year by saying he didn't know Choi at the time.

The vice chairman has been the de facto boss of the entire Samsung group since 2014 when his father, chairman Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalized after a heart attack.

Editorial standards