Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong has escaped arrest after a court in Seoul denied prosecutors’ request to detain him while they conduct an investigation into alleged accounting fraud. Lee, who goes by Jay Y. Lee in the West and is the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, spent almost a year in jail until February 2018 for his role in a separate scandal.
“It appears that prosecutors have secured considerable amount of evidence through their investigation, but they fell short of explaining the validity to detain Lee,” the Seoul Central District Court said, as reported by Nikkei. “Considering the significance of the case, it is appropriate to determine whether the suspects are responsible and the degree (of their involvement) through sufficient trials and debates.”
As such, the case against Lee could still proceed. The prosecutors may seek an arrest warrant again after gathering further evidence, or bring charges against Lee without detaining him. They called the decision “regrettable” and said they will continue with the investigation, according to Nikkei.
The allegations center around the 2015 merger of two Samsung Group businesses, Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T. Lee is accused of using the merger as a loophole to obtain greater control of the conglomerate; he is expected to ultimately take over the group from his father Lee Kun-hee, who has reportedly been incapacitated since 2014.