Prosecutors claim that Samsung paid over $37M in bribes to help facilitate a merger.
On Friday morning local time, Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung, was taken into custody at the Seoul Detention Centre shortly after the Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of bribery, perjury and embezzlement.
According to a translation provided by the BBC, the court said in a statement: “It is acknowledged that it is necessary to arrest [Lee Jae-Yong] in light of a newly added criminal charge and new evidence.”
Lee has generally considered the de facto head of Samsung Group, since his father, still the chairman by title, was hospitalized in 2014.
Investigators believe that Lee, who is also known by the name Jay Y. Lee, is involved in the corruption scandal that lead to last year’s impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Prosecutors claim that Samsung paid a total of over $37 million in bribes to organizations linked to a presidential advisor and friend, Choi Soon-sil, who has been in custody since November 2016. The money was allegedly designed to foster governmental approval for the merger of two Samsung units.
Lee is the first Samsung executive to have ever been arrested on criminal charges, the Associated Press reported.