Samsung’s leader Jay Y. Lee was grilled by South Korean prosecutors in a marathon 22-hour-plus session over his connection to a huge influence-peddling scandal that could topple South Korean President Park Geun-hye.
Lee did not sleep during the questioning – and neither did the two prosecutors questioning him, according to Reuters – finally leaving early on Friday morning.
Prosecutors are investigating Lee and Samsung engaged in bribery – specifically, whether the conglomerate provided 30 billion won ($25.46 million) to a business and foundations backed by President Park’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, in exchange for the national pension fund’s support for a 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates.
Prosecutors are now weighing up whether to arrest the 48-year-old executive. “Lee returned home at around 7:30 a.m. this morning,” a spokesperson for the special prosecutor told Bloomberg. “He has denied most of the allegations. Whether the prosecution will request an arrest warrant or not will be decided likely today or tomorrow.”
The corruption scandal has engulfed the highest reaches of South Korea’s elite, with President Park impeached by parliament in December. She denies wrongdoing, but has been stripped of her powers, and the decision to impeach her must now be upheld or struck down by the Constitutional Court.
Jay Y. Lee was named as a suspect on Wednesday and summoned on Thursday morning for questioning. Before the questioning, he told reporters that “I apologize to the Korean people that we couldn’t show better behavior in this case,” Bloomberg reported. (He did not comment after the 22-hour questioning finished.)
Prosecutors were looking into whether he gave false testimony during a parliamentary hearing in early December, where the heads of nine of South Korea’s biggest chaebol (conglomerates) were subjected to an unprecedented 13-hour televised grilling by a panel investigating the presidential scandal.