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Samsung heir arrested

Samsung group heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong was arrested by prosecutors Friday on bribery charges linked to an influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

The 48-year-old vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics Co is suspected of offering bribes to Park’s confidante Choi Soon-sil in exchange for the state-run pension fund’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.

The merger is believed to have been aimed at solidifying Lee’s influence in the company as heir apparent. He has effectively led the Samsung group since his father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in May 2014.

The arrest of Samsung’s de facto leader will likely shock the business community and cheer the critics of chaebol, the South Korean family-controlled business conglomerates that dominate the economy.

It was seen as a test of the country’s judicial system that in the past had been lenient toward the powerful business elite families at chaebol for their white collar crimes, citing their contributions to the national economy.

The court said additional evidence showed there were enough reasons to take Lee into custody. Prosecutors can detain him for up to 20 days before formally indicting him. (AP)