In January, he had escaped arrest for lack of evidence. Samsung has donated the most money ($ 70 million) to the Choi Soon-sil foundations, the friend who has dragged Park to impeachment. Candidates in new presidential elections react.
Seoul (AsiaNews) - Lee Jae-young, vice chairman of Samsung, the largest technology company in the world, was arrested today, accused of corruption linked to the scandal that has engulfed Presidnet Park Geun-hye and her friend and confidant Choi Soon-sil.
According to the prosecutor, Lee promised 43 billion won (36.3 million US dollars) in bribes to Choi Soon-sil, for government support in a restructuring of Samsung that would have favored his rise to the summit. His father, Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack on May 2014.
Among dozens of South Korean companies, Samsung is the one that has donated most - about 70 million US dollars - to foundations controlled by Choi. It also has transferred millions of euro to a company that was financing Choi’s daughter’s equestrian training and the organization of a winter sports center run by her grandson. The woman is also accused of having interfered and influenced policy choices of the Park government.
Lee had escaped arrest last month because the judges had judged the evidence too fragile. Now, according to analysts, the company is likely to suffer repercussions in the already difficult Korean economic situation.
What’s more, analysts think that the fate of President Park is marked. In December, parliament voted on her impeachment. Now the Constitutional Court is reviewing the prosecution. Observers think that Park may resign by March.
Several politicians have hailed the arrest of Lee as an opportunity to restore justice to the economy and politics. The Democratic candidate in the presidential elections, the Catholic Moon Jae-in, said: "With Lee’s arrest, we hope that the Samsung will break with the mistakes of the past and be reborn again."
The likely candidate of the Liberal Party (Park’s own party), Yoo Won-chul, asked the country not to forget the contribution that Samsung has given to South Korea’s economy.
He was accused of corruption, embezzlement and perjury and involved in the scandal that has engulfed the President Park. According to the judges the reasons are not sufficient to approve the request for provisional arrest.
He is accused of paying bribes to Choi Soon-sil worth more than US$ 36 million US. Prosecutors allege that the group also financed a Choi-owned sports company to the tune of US$ 18.3 million.
During the fourth weekend of protests, the South Korean people continue to crowd the streets of the capital. The presidential office rejects the prosecutors accusations, who say Park is an "accomplice" and "suspect".
Members of her own party voted against her. Decision now rests with Constitutional Court. If ousted, Park would be the first South Korean president to undergo such a fate.
The Korean president says she is ready to leave power "once lawmakers come up with measures to transfer power in a way that minimises any power vacuum and chaos in governance." December 2, the opposition will present the motion for impeachment in parliament. Park would be the first president to step down since 1960.