UPDATE : 2019.11.18 MON 11:27
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Opposition parties welcome arrest of Samsung head

South Korea's main opposition Democratic Party on Friday welcomed the arrest of the de facto head of the country's No. 1 conglomerate Samsung Group, expressing hope it will help in eradicating corruptive ties between businesses and the government.

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of the world's largest technology company Samsung Electronics Co., was arrested early in the day on charges that included bribery in connection with the high-profile scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her confidante.

"Chaebol groups, including Samsung, which provided large sums of money to the president and those who exerted powers behind the scenes in return for various benefits must receive stern judgment in court," Rep. Youn Kwan-suk, a spokesman of the Democratic Party said.

"We expect that Park could also be slapped with bribery charges in line with today's court decision."

The Constitutional Court is currently reviewing the impeachment of Park passed by the parliament in December.

"Samsung stands at the center of the collusive ties of the government and business, which was behind the Park and Choi scandal," said Rep. Koh Yong-jin, another spokesman of the main opposition party.

"Conglomerates hold a heavy responsibility for establishing a fair society. We need to remove such collusive ties as the triangular relations among Park, Choi and Lee to bring justice to the society," Koh added.

Prosecutors suspect that Lee gave or promised some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to Choi in return for the government's backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., enters the independent counsel's office in Seoul on Feb. 16, 2017. (Yonhap)

Critics said Samsung's amalgamation of the two units was intended to enhance heir apparent Lee Jae-yong's control of the group, despite possible damage to other shareholders. His father, Lee Kun-hee, has been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack.

The conservative splinter Bareun Party said it hopes the arrest will contributes to establishing economic justice in the nation.

"We understand the court decided to issue the arrest warrant in accordance with the law and principle after a long contemplation," party spokesman Rep. Oh Shin-hwan said. "The decision reminds us that all people stand equal before the law." (Yonhap)

Park So-yeon  edt@koreapost.com

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