A court in South Korea on Thursday disallowed the nation’s independent counsel team from placing Samsung Electronics Co,’s Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee under custody on bribery, embezzlement and perjury charges, citing lack of cause to keep him in physical dentition before trial.
“It is difficult to acknowledge that there is enough reason and necessity to justify his detention at the current stage of the investigation,” said Seoul Central District Court Judge Cho Eui-yeon in a statement on Thursday morning after reviewing the case for 18 hours.
The independent counsel requested a court warrant to detain the de facto leader of South Korea’s largest conglomerate Samsung Group on conclusion that Lee contributed handsomely to Core Sports that was later renamed Widec Sports owned by President Park Geun-hye’s confidante Choi Soon-sil and to Korea Winter Sports Elite Center led by Choi’s niece for favoritism as the donations followed a separate tete-a-tete with the president on July 2015 and February 2016.
The counsel team also accused Samsung Group had made donations to Choi and her inner circle in exchange for Park’s backing of the merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries in 2015 that was critical for Lee to consolidate control over the group.
Samsung denied the allegations saying that it had not provided financial contributions to Choi in return for any favors. It claimed that it could not turn down a request from the president.
“The most important point was whether the contributions had been made for business favors or not,” Lee’s lawyer Song Woo-chul told reporters after the hearing, adding that the lawyers reasoned hard for the conundrum of a company against a political power.
The court’s dismissal of the request of the counsel team to detain Lee could stall the investigation aimed to question Park early next month. The investigation findings would be pivotal to the Constitutional Court deliberation on the validity of the legislative impeachment on Park. It is also expected to affect the counsel team’s plan to expand the bribery probe to Lotte, SK and CJ Groups who also made big donations to Choi’s organizations.
As of 10:10 a.m. on Thursday, shares of Samsung Electronics rose 1.14 percent to 1,868,000 won in Seoul trading.
The Original Posted By Lee Hyun-jung/Maeil Business News Korea