The heir of Samsung Lee Jae-Yong was toasted by South Korean prosecutors on Thursday after becoming a criminal suspect in the corruption scandal engulfing impeached President Park Geun–Hye.
Lee, president of Samsung Electronics and son of Samsung group president Lee Kun–Hee, was due to be questioned on allegations of corruption, prosecutors said on Wednesday.
He is also accused of committing perjury at a parliamentary hearing last month in the case, reported the Yonhap news agency.
“I am sorry to cause anxiety among people during this incident,” Lee said while he arrived at the special prosecutor’s office to investigate the case.
Lee and his lawyer were greeted by dozens of journalists as well as dozens of demonstrators waving banners and singing “arrest immediately Lee” and calling him a “co-culprit” in the scandal.
The probability that prosecutors ask for a judicial warrant to officially arrest Lee was “high”, said Yonhap an unidentified investigator.
The scandal focuses on Confidential Confidential Park, Choi Soon-Sil, who is accused of using its ties with Park to force companies to “donate” tens of millions of dollars to two non-profit foundations that Choi has Then used as personal teller machines.
It was the biggest contributor to the foundations. He is also accused of giving separately millions of euros to Choi for financing the equestrian training of his daughter in Germany in a curry favor attempt.
Prosecutors have for months questioned Lee and other senior officials of it. The officials would have argued that, although they were forced to offer money, they did not seek favors in return and therefore the payments were not a bribe.
Lee was named a criminal suspect in the enlargement investigation Wednesday.
Prosecutors are investigating whether Samsung bribed Choi in order to win the state’s approval for a controversial merger he was looking for in 2015.
The merger of two units of the Samsung Group – Cheil Industries and Samsung C & T – was considered a crucial step to ensure a third-generation power transfer to Lee Jae-Yong.
It was criticized by many people who said they deliberately undervalued the shares of Samsung C & T. But the National Pension Service – a major shareholder of Samsung – voted in favor of the deal and it finally crossed.