Seoul – Samsung Group chief Jay Lee was arrested early on Friday over his alleged role in a corruption scandal rocking the highest levels of power in South Korea, dealing a fresh blow to the world’s biggest maker of smartphones and memory chips.
The 48-year-old Lee, scion of the country’s richest family, was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Centre after waiting there overnight for the decision.
He was being held in a single cell with a TV and desk, a jail official said.
Lee is a suspect in the influence-peddling scandal that led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye in December, a decision that if upheld by the Constitutional Court would make her the country’s first democratically elected leader forced from office.
Prosecutors have up to 10 days to indict Lee, Samsung’s third-generation leader, although they can seek an extension.
After indictment, a court would be required to make a ruling within three months.
No decision had been made on whether Lee’s arrest would be contested or whether bail would be sought, a spokeswoman for Samsung Group said.
Samsung and Lee have denied wrongdoing in the case.
“We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings,” the Samsung Group said in a brief statement after Lee’s arrest.
The same court had rejected a request last month to arrest Lee, but prosecutors on Tuesday brought additional accusations against Lee, seeking his arrest on bribery and other charges.
“We acknowledge the cause and necessity of the arrest,” a judge said in his ruling.
The judge rejected the prosecution’s request to arrest Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-jin.
In a related development, South Korea’s special prosecutor’s office said it is planning to indict Lee on charges that go beyond previously cited bribery allegations surrounding government backing of a 2015 merger of two group affiliates.
The charges against Lee relate to the broader process of leadership succession at Samsung, the prosecution spokesman told a news briefing on Friday, and said prosecutors will summon Lee for questioning on Saturday.