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Samsung heir appears in hearings to decide arrest sought by S.Korean prosecutors

2017/2/17 9:38:33   source:Xinhua

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (C) enters a Seoul court for hearings in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 16, 2017.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (C) enters a Seoul court for hearings in Seoul, South Korea, on Feb. 16, 2017. The heir apparent of Samsung Group, South Korea's largest family-run conglomerate, on Thursday appeared in hearings at a Seoul court, which will decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for him sought by prosecutors. (Xinhua/Lee Sang-ho)

The heir apparent of Samsung Group,South Korea's largest family-run conglomerate, on Thursday appeared in hearings at a Seoul court, which will decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for him sought by prosecutors.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong entered the Seoul court earlier in the morning, surrounded by a horde of journalists. The grim-faced heir answered no questions from them. Protesters chanted for his detention nearby, TV footage showed.

It was the second bid to arrest the Samsung heir after the court rejected the arrest warrant for him on Jan. 19, sought by prosecutors independently investigating the scandal embroiling impeached President Park Geun-hye.

Lee is accused of paying 43.3 billion won (38 million U.S. dollars) in bribes to President Park's longtime confidante Choi soon-sil, who is at the center of the corruption scandal, in return for policy favors to let him smoothly inherit management control of the country's largest conglomerate.

Prosecutors identified President Park as a criminal accomplice to her decades-long friend, who shares assets and personal gains with the impeached leader. It means bribing Choi being equivalent to bribing the president.

Samsung was the biggest donor to two nonprofit foundations, which Choi controlled and used for personal gains. The company also provided millions of euros to her to finance her daughter's equestrian training inGermany.

Samsung's legal team claimed that there was no quid pro quo in the donations, and that the company was forced to make the payments under the presidential office's pressures.

Lee has actually headed Samsung Group since his father Chairman Lee Kun-hee was incapacitated in May 2014 for heart attack. The July 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates was crucial to the power transfer from the ailing patriarch to his only son.

Prosecutors believe that there were discussions on the give-and-take when the vice chairman and the scandal-hit president met face-to-face in September 2014, July 2015 and February 2016 each.

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