A court in South Korea has approved the arrest of Samsung Group’s Lee Jae-yong, the heir apparent to the world’s largest smartphone maker, on allegations of bribery, perjury, and embezzlement, reports Bloomberg. Lee had been held in a detention center following court hearings on claims that Samsung had provided up to 43 billion won ($38 million) in exchange for government favors, particularly around the merger of two Samsung affiliate units. The case was linked to the impeachment of South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye last December.
The Seoul Central District Court had initially rejected the request to arrest Lee in January, but reversed its decision after a special prosecutor’s office provided additional evidence. At the parliamentary hearing last December, Lee confirmed he had private meetings with Park and gifted a horse worth 1 billion won ($875,500) to the daughter of Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil. The prosecution also alleged that Lee donated $3.1 million to a company Choi co-owned. At the hearing, Lee denied seeking political favors or support for the merger in return for the gift.
Shareholders had argued against the merger between Samsung’s de-facto holding company, Cheil Industries, and its construction arm, Samsung C&T, claiming that the deal would give Lee too much control and influence over the new entity.
Lee became the de-facto chief of Samsung after his father, the company’s former chairman, was hospitalized in 2014 following a heart attack. According to Bloomberg, it may take up to 18 months for a trial and verdict.