Jay Y. Lee, the chief of Samsung Group, was arrested on Friday following allegations in a corruption scandal. He is accused of bribery and embezzlement among other charges.
This follows on from the impeachment of South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who Lee is a close friend of. Prosecutors have accused Lee and Samsung of bribing a close friend of the former president in exchange for government favours. Both Lee and Samsung have denied any wrongdoing. It should be noted at this point that the arrest does in no way reflect a court opinion, but that the crime is considered very serious or that the suspect could be a flight risk.
Prosecutors had first questioned Lee in January but decided not to arrest him at that point. They questioned him again this week which led to the arrest. On Friday, the court said it "acknowledged that it is necessary to arrest [Lee Jae-Yong] in light of a newly added criminal charge and new evidence."
The case wil now be investigated further by the prosecution which has 20 days to file formal charges. Samsung has not decided whether it will contest the arrest or seek bail, said a spokesperson from Samsung to Reuters.
"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.
It is unlikely that Lee’s arrest will affect any day-to-day goings on at Samsung, strategic decision making could be hindered. One anonymous employee remained positive and believes the arrest will not drastically affect the business: "It wouldn’t make sense for a company of that size to not function properly just because the owner is away."
Lee’s arrest comes as Samsung attempts to move past the controversy of last year’s Galaxy Note 7 rollout which saw some devices catch on fire and the entire product range scrapped.