South Korean investigators sought an arrest warrant for Samsung’s acting head Lee Jae-yong Monday, as Seoul’s presidential office scandal took a further dramatic twist.
Weeks after the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, Lee was interrogated on bribery suspicions for nearly 24 hours last week before he was released Friday morning.
Officials spent the weekend weighing up his possible arrest before making their move, according to local news agency Yonhap.
Lee already admitted to donating millions of dollars under pressure from the president, who took office four years ago – but the Samsung chief denies making those and other payments to ensure the success of a 2015 merger that came under suspicion when the state run pension fund appeared to hurt its own interests by backing the deal.
Detained National Pension Service head Moon Hyung-pyo was also formally indicted Monday morning for his alleged part in supporting the merger.
The extent to which the president may have been involved is yet to be determined, with her own impeachment trial ongoing at the Constitutional Court.
It is known that she previously held private talks with 48-year-old Lee, a particularly important figure for South Korea’s sluggish economy given his father – Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee – has been hospitalized since 2014 due to a heart attack.