The de-facto heir to the Samsung Empire has been arrested in South Korea over corruption allegations. The arrest deals a blow to the world’s largest smartphone and memory chips maker.
The 48-year-old is being detained at the Seoul Detention Centre. He has been locked in a single cell with a TV and desk as the jail, reports The Guardian.
Lee has been named in a scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye in December. If the Constitutional Court upholds this decision, she will be the first democratically elected president to be forced out of office. She currently serves has president but all the powers have been transferred to her Vice President.
The announcement led to a fall in Samsung shares declining across its mult-billion businesses. Samsung C&T Corp, the de facto holding company of Samsung Group, shares fell 2.8% with the wider market decline standing at 0.2%.
The Samsung Group spokeswoman did not state whether the decision would be contested and it remains as it is.
Both Lee and Samsung have denied having done any wrong.
“We will do our best to ensure that the truth is revealed in future court proceedings,” the Samsung Group said in a brief statement after Lee’s arrest.
He is being accused of bribery, perjury, concealing criminal profits, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.
While making their ruling, the judges turned down request to also place in custody Samsung President Park Sang-jin.
The arrest attempts against the scion of the country’s richest family began in January but the judges back then declined to issue the warrant of arrest, explaining that the presented evidence was insufficient. The prosecutors vowed that they wouldn’t relent until they put him in jail.
This is a far-reaching case that has led to massive street protests, cutting across political settings and numerous South Korean companies.
This arrest continues the humiliation that Samsung has suffered, courtesy to the exploding Galaxy Note 7.
But Lee isn’t the first South Korean business leader to be charged over corruption accusations. His father and Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, was arrested twice and pardoned twice.