South Korean prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong for his role in the bribery scandal involving the country’s president
The request follows their quizzing of him on Friday, which lasted over 22 hours, over whether Samsung knowingly paid Choi Soon-shil, a close friend to President Park Geun-hye, bribes to have a controversial merger of its affiliates approved.
The court will now decide on Wednesday after interviewing Lee whether to approve the warrant.
The de facto boss of the entire Samsung Group also faces perjury charges for lying under oath at a committee hearing last month where he denied knowing Choi personally.
Investigators believe the vice chairman knew about her existence way before the date he admitted to.
Representatives of Samsung have called for the investigations to proceed without jailing Lee as it will negatively impact their business and the nation’s economy.
But Lee Kyu-chul, spokesman for the special prosecution, said the national economy is important, but “justice” is more so.
Investigators believe Lee was involved in around $40 million in bribes that the conglomerate paid to Choi via Samsung Electronics.
The vice chairman has been leading the Samsung conglomerate since his father, chairman Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalized in 2014 after a heart attack.
He was named inside director of Samsung Electronics last year and has been deeply involved in the operations of the firm.
The warrant for Lee is likely a signal that the special prosecution plans to aggressively widen its investigations to other conglomerates, especially SK and Lotte, who are also facing allegations of bribing Choi for favors.