Samsung Group chief Jay Y Lee appeared in court Thursday as judges deliberate a second attempt by prosecutors to arrest him over his role in a corruption scandal that has engulfed President Park Geun-hye.
Lee would face immediate incarceration at a detention centre for those awaiting trial, if the court opts to issue the arrest warrant.
South Korea’s special prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday it had expanded charges against Lee to include hiding the proceeds of a criminal act, as well as bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury. Prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for Lee for the second time in a month.
The special prosecutor’s office has focused on Samsung Group’s relationship with Park, accusing Lee in his capacity as the head of South Korea’s largest conglomerate of pledging 43 billion won (US$37.7 million) to a business and organizations backed by Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for support of a 2015 merger of two Samsung companies.
Park, Choi, and Samsung Group have denied bribery accusations.
Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin, for whom the prosecution has also requested an arrest warrant, also appeared at the special prosecutor’s office on Thursday.
Lee, 48, did not answer reporters’ questions as he made his way into an elevator.
On Wednesday, Samsung Group repeated an earlier denial on its official Twitter account: “Samsung has absolutely never bribed the president seeking something in return or sought illicit favors.”