Heir to South Korea’s Samsung Empire
June 09, 2020
A South Korean Court has rejected an
arrest warrant for the heir to the legendary Samsung Group conglomerate
in connection with a controversial merger.
Prosecutors have accused Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung
Electronics, of stock manipulation and illegal trading involving the
2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries,
of which Lee is the largest shareholder. He allegedly sought to inflate
the value of Cheil Industries and lower the value of Samsung C&T to give
him a bigger stake in the merged company, a move that would give him
increasing control of South Korea’s largest conglomerate and smooth the
transition from his ailing father, Lee Kun-hee, who suffered a heart
attack in 2014.
But the Seoul Central District Court ruled Tuesday that while
prosecutors had amassed enough evidence against Lee in their
investigation, there was not enough to justify detaining him.
51-year-old Lee arrived at the courthouse Monday for the hearing, which
lasted nine hours, and awaited the decision at a detention center.
Samsung released a statement last week denying the allegations against
Lee, who prosecutors have also accused of inflating the value of Samsung
Biologics, a subsidiary of Cheil Industries.
Lee is also awaiting a retrial on his original 2017 conviction for
bribing a confidante of then-President Park Geun-hye in return for
Park’s support for the 2015 merger, a scandal that forced Park out of
office and eventually landed her in prison. Lee served a year in prison
before an appeals court suspended his sentence, but South Korea’s
Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s decision last year.