A court in Seoul on Tuesday denied the arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong that prosecutors had applied for at the end of last week. The heir apparent and de facto boss of Samsung Group remains accused of accounting fraud and stock manipulation.
“It appears that prosecutors have secured considerable amount of evidence through their investigation, but they fell short of explaining the validity to detain Lee,” the Seoul Central District Court said.
The allegations against Lee focus on transactions and stock manipulation that enabled an $8 billion merger between affiliates Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries in 2015. The moves were seen as helping Lee increase his control of the wider Samsung group and the prized Samsung Electronics unit.
Lee (aka Jay Lee) and Samsung have denied the charges. Lee’s lawyers Tuesday said that they hope an outside panel will now decide whether he needs to face further charges.
In August 2017 Lee was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption intended to win support for the then Park Geun-hee government, in return for government approval of the 2015 corporate manoeuvres which helped Lee tighten his control of Samsung. He was released from detention in February 2018.
“South Korea’s Supreme Court has since overturned an appeals court decision to suspend Lee’s sentence in that case, but a court ruling over whether he should serve further jail time is still pending,” says the Reuters news agency.