Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics vice chairman and the de facto leader of the Samsung Group conglomerate, may soon find himself back in jail. Prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant against Lee, known as Jay Y. Lee in the West, arguing that he should be detained while they investigate new allegations against him.
The new legal controversy involves the 2015 merger of two Samsung Group companies, Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T. Lee is accused of accounting fraud that allegedly could have helped him gain more power over the sprawling chaebol. Samsung last week said it was “beyond common sense” to suggest that Lee was directly involved, according to Reuters.
Lee attended a hearing this morning in Seoul and is currently waiting to find out if he will be re-arrested. Courts can order detention of up to 20 days before prosecutors need to file charges, at which point the suspect can be held for up to six months. A decision is expected today or tomorrow.
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This won’t be an unfamiliar process for Lee, nor will it be the end of his legal troubles if the prosecutors’ request is denied. The Samsung scion spent almost a year in jail after being arrested in February 2017 and ultimately found guilty for his role in the seismic corruption scandal that took down South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye. Lee was released on appeal, although the Supreme Court later ordered a retrial that is yet to take place.