The South Korean Prosecutor’s office issued Monday an arrest warrant against Lee Jae-yong, heir and de facto head of technology giant Samsung, and an accused in the “Rasputin” scandal that has rocked the country recently and led to the impeachment of the President.
The arrest warrant follows a marathon interrogation during which the investigators questioned Lee for 22 hours between Thursday and Friday in connection with the corruption and influence-peddling case involving president Park Geun-hye and her close friend Choi Soon-sil, dubbed the Korean Rasputin.
The prosecution believes that Samsung may have made donations worth millions to several foundations allegedly controlled by Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for favors.
Samsung allegedly paid 22 billion won ($18.6 million) for consultancy services to a Germany-based company led by Choi.
It is also accused of funneling millions to the same company for the equestrian training of Choi’s daughter, who is a professional rider.
Apart from this, Samsung allegedly donated, between 2015 and 2016, 20.4 billion won to two other nonprofits linked to Choi.
The prosecution suspects that the company made these payments in order to get the approval of the National Pension Service – controlled by the government and which holds shares in a company of the Samsung group – for a controversial merger between two Samsung affiliates.
Lee admitted to the prosecution that he made transactions in favor of Choi’s two foundations and her company, although he denied any connection between the transactions and the merger.
Lee, 48, is the vice president of Samsung Electronics, although he took over the reins of the conglomerate in October after his father Lee-Kun-hee suffered a heart attack.
Following Lee’s interrogation last week, the prosecution had deferred the decision over his arrest till Monday due to the complexity of the issue and its possible impact on the country’s economy as Samsung is South Korea’s biggest multinational.