Samsung heir appears in court, awaits decision on whether he will be arrested again

SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung group heir Jay Y. Lee arrived on Monday at a South Korean court that will decide whether he will be sent back to prison after more than two years of freedom, with new allegations chasing the executive and setting aside the charges. main conglomerate in the country.

Jay Y. Lee, heir to the Samsung group, arrives for a hearing to consider an arrest warrant against him at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, on June 8, 2020. REUTERS / Kim Hong-Ji

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Prosecutors on Thursday asked the court to issue an arrest warrant against Lee, culminating in an investigation into accounting fraud and a controversial 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates, which they said had helped facilitate Lee's plan to take over. greater control of the group.

Lee, 51, wearing a face mask and a dark suit, appeared at the Seoul court for a hearing scheduled to start at 10:30 am (02:30 GMT). He did not answer questions from reporters before entering the court.

After the hearing, he must go to a detention center to await the judge's decision, scheduled for Monday or Tuesday.

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Samsung on Friday denied the allegation of manipulation of actions against Lee, saying it was "beyond common sense" to claim that Lee was involved in decision-making.

In another statement over the weekend, the group said the long investigation is weighing on the administration, which is in a "crisis" at a time when the coronavirus pandemic and trade disputes between the U.S. and China are heightening uncertainty.

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The company declined to make Lee available for comment.

He served in prison for about a year until February 2018 for his role in a bribery scandal, in which he was accused of giving horses as gifts to win support from former President Park Geun-hye's government for the merger.

The merger has increased control of the group – and its crown jewel, Samsung Electronics Co, South Korea's largest company. His father, Lee Kun-hee, has been ill for some time.

“If he gets arrested, it will further damage Lee and Samsung's reputation. There will be more questions about your legitimacy as CEO and successor to the company, ”Chang Sea-jin, business professor at the Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Korea.

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"The public would think: & # 39; Oh, he may have done something wrong again. & # 39;"

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Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Heekyong Yang; Edition by William Mallard

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