Samsung’s boss, Lee Jae-Yong, was arrested after new evidence surrounding allegations of bribery in South Korea was brought before the courts last Friday. The prosecution said it had secured additional evidence and brought more charges against Lee in its latest warrant request. His case is linked to a scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korea’s first female president Park Geun-Hye. Jae-Young is accused of giving donations to non-profit organisations operated by a friend of Ms Park, in exchange for securing the government’s backing for a merger of two Samsung units. The bribe amounts to a total of 43 billion won (£30.44 million).
The Samsung case is part of a broader investigation into contributions that dozens of Korean companies gave to Choi Soon-Sil, Park’s confidante. In response, millions of South Koreans have taken to the streets in protest. Samsung said in a statement that it had “not paid bribes nor made improper requests to the president seeking favours”. However, Lee’s arrest is expected to add momentum to the prosecutors’ case against President Park and Choi, who is currently in detention facing charges of abuse of power and attempted fraud. This trial will come as a big blow to Samsung. The arrest of Lee may not affect short term production or the running of the firm, but it is suggested that there could be long term implications.