Samsung Group’s vice chairman Jay Y. Lee has been formally arrested on accusations of bribery, perjury, and embezzlement, continuing a scandal that has marred the company and South Korea’s president, and which brought millions of protesters to the streets.
Lee was arrested earlier today after the Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant on his name, following investigations and interrogations by the country’s police. Prosecutors wanted Lee arrested earlier in January, but at that point, not enough evidence had been gathered and the judge denied their request.
At the heart of this trial is the question of whether Lee provided up to $38 million to an associate of South Korea’s president, in an effort to ensure the merger of two Samsung subsidiaries and secure his rule over the conglomerate.
The trial, counting appeals and delays, is likely to take up to 18 months to reach a verdict, according to Bloomberg, during which time Lee’s attributions will be taken over by Samsung Electronics president Park Sang-Jin.
Despite the upheaval, Samsung’s stock has remained fairly stable, on an overall positive trajectory. Local investors explain that this is because the company’s leader has little control over most operations, with the only decisions affected being those related to big mergers and acquisitions.