SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Group and business circles on Tuesday urged a Seoul court not to approve the arrest warrant against the group's de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, a day before the court reviews the special prosecutors' request for his arrest.
In the latest development of a widening corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye, special prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for Lee on Monday, accusing him of allegedly paying bribes totaling 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) to two foundations set up by Park's longtime friend, Choi Soon-sil.
Prosecutors alleged that the bribes were paid to win favor from the country's state pension fund in 2015, when Samsung merged two of its affiliates, a move seen as critical for Lee's succession plan.
Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, has served as the de facto chief of Samsung Group since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014.
|Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., leaves the special prosecutor's office in Seoul on Jan. 13, 2017, after 22 hours of questioning. He was interrogated over allegations Samsung Group offered financial aid to President Park Geun-hye's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of a massive corruption scandal, in return for business favors. (Yonhap)|
Samsung denied the prosecutors' allegations, arguing that it was strong-armed into offering the money and it was not related to the 2015 merger.
In a statement on Monday, Samsung said it can't accept the bribery charges.
Samsung officials said Lee could face a trial without detention because he was already banned from leaving the country because of the investigation. Also, the possibility of the destruction of evidence is low because prosecutors secured enough evidence following three raids of Samsung offices, the officials added.
An industry observer expressed hope that the court would make a decision "in accordance with law and principle."
The Seoul Central District Court will hold a hearing on Wednesday to review the request for Lee's arrest.
Yoo, Heui-Jin firstname.lastname@example.org
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