South Korean prosecutors are seeking the arrest of Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong over allegations of bribery involving President Park Geun-hye.
In a statement on Monday, prosecutors investigating the scandal said they asked a Seoul court to issue an arrest warrant for Lee, the son of the Samsung group chairman Lee Kun-hee.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from Seoul, said charges against Lee include bribery, embezzlement and perjury.
“The spokesman [of the prosecution] said the economic impact of all this is important, but justice is more important,” our correspondent reported.
“That is a sign that there is a recognition of just how big an entity Samsung is, its revenues worth about a fifth of South Korea’s GDP. So obviously they weigh this very carefully before deciding to move ahead and seek the arrest of such a vital part of South Korea’s economy.”
The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that a court will hold a hearing on Wednesday to review the arrest warrant.
Samsung, South Korea’s largest business group, has acknowledged making contributions to two foundations as well as a consulting firm linked to Choi Soon-sil, a close confidante of the embattled South Korean leader who is also facing corruption charges.
At a December parliament hearing, Lee denied that the company paid bribes to pave the way for a merger in 2015.
Samsung made the biggest contributions of $16.8m to Choi’s foundations.
Samsung is separately accused of funnelling millions of dollars to Choi to bankroll her daughter’s equestrian training in Germany.
Prosecutors said the donations were made in exchange for government favours, allegations that Lee and Choi have denied.
President Park could become South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to leave office early after parliament voted in December to impeach her over the corruption scandal, a decision that must be approved or overturned by the Constitutional Court.