Facing his fate ㅡ Lee Jae-yong, center, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, leaves after attending a court hearing to review a detention warrant request against him at the Seoul Central District Court on Wednesday.
The group's flagship, Samsung Electronics (005930.KS), is the world's biggest maker of smartphones, flat-screen televisions and memory chips.
In Sunday's report I had expressed the opinion that Samsung's Lee wouldn't see the inside of a jail cell because he was basically untouchable in South Korea.
Prosecutors also tacked on charges of embezzlement and perjury on top of the bribery charges. Lee spent nearly a day in questioning last week as authorities were considering charging him with bribery in a corruption case that's been developing in the Far Easter country for the last several months.
He is relied upon to be asked whether multimillion-dollar gifts that Samsung made to two establishments controlled by Choi Soon-sil, a long-term comrade of the president, added up to influences, and the part, assuming any, he played in the choice to offer the bribe.
Both Lee and Ms. Park have denied all wrongdoing in this scandal.More news: Serena into Australian Open second round
Samsung's byzantine holding structure makes it possible for the founder family to remain in charge even though the conglomerate is publicly traded and they only hold minority shares. Lee's father, the ailing Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, has actually been convicted twice before, once on bribery charges, another on tax evasion. The younger Lee has been in effect leading the business empire since his father Chairman Lee was hospitalized in May 2014 for heart attack. Overseas markets accounted for almost 90% of Samsung Electronics's 135 trillion won (US$115.8 billion) in sales for 2015; sales in the North American market amounted to 42.5 trillion won (US$36.4 billion), or 31.4% of that.
Samsung has largely remained a family controlled conglomerate since Lee's grandfather Lee Byung-chul founded the company.
Samsung came under criticism at that time, particularly from NY hedge fund and activist shareholder Elliot Management, who tried, unsuccessfully at the time, to block the deal. The special prosecutors have previously arrested Moon Hyung-pyo, former chairman of the pension service.
The national pension fund's support was crucial for the merger, which analysts said helped Mr. Its offices have been raided several times on suspicion that the presidential office influenced the decision by South Korea's state-run pension fund to back Samsung's merger plan past year.
It all began with the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.