Skip to navigationSkip to content
AP Photo/Lee Jin-man
He “appears to be no flight risk.”

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong has avoided arrest in South Korea’s bribery scandal

Adam Pasick
By Adam Pasick

Senior Editor

A South Korean court has denied a request from prosecutors to arrest Lee Jae-yong, the heir apparent at the country’s largest conglomerate, who is ensnared in a massive bribery scandal.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled that there “appears to be no flight risk and no need to physically detain” the Samsung vice chairman, the Korean Herald reported. He was reportedly interrogated for more than 22 hours over the weekend, and faces charges of bribery, embezzlement, and perjury.

Lee, who was being held in a detention facility pending the court’s decision, was immediately released. The ruling is a setback for prosecutors including Han Dong-hoon, dubbed the “chaebol sniper” for his relentless pursuit of the country’s conglomerates.

The Samsung heir, who has been running the company since his father suffered a heart attack in 2014, is accused of funneling tens of millions of dollars to Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of impeached president Park Geun-hye. The bribes allegedly paid for Choi’s daughter’s equestrian training.