June 09, 2020 11:31
The Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday refused to issue an arrest warrant for Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong on charges of accounting fraud and stock manipulation.
The judge who reviewed the application said prosecutors had failed to prove there was any point locking Lee up at this stage. "In light of the importance of this case, it will be appropriate to determine the responsibility and degree of involvement of the suspects at trial," the judge added.
Former Samsung executives Choi Ji-sung and Kim Jong-joong, who led the now defunct control tower of the conglomerate at the time of the alleged offenses, also avoided arrest.
They stand accused of cooking the books in a massive fiddle that paved the way for Lee to assume control of the Byzantine conglomerate after his father fell into a coma in 2014 even though he only holds a small minority stake.
Legal experts said the court's refusal to arrest Lee suggests weaknesses in the prosecution case and gives a glimmer of hope to Lee, who has already been convicted of bribing ex-President Park Geun-hye to facilitate the fiddle.
The court acknowledged that there is little risk of Lee trying to destroy evidence since prosecutors have seized enough evidence in their investigation where they have questioned around 30 incumbent and former executive and conducted more than 50 raids for the past year and a half.
Last week Lee filed for a public review of the investigation in a last-ditch attempt to stall proceeding but prosecutor said the review is "unrelated" to the filing of an arrest warrant.
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