The Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant for the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, the default head of the largest phone manufacturing company in the world.
Investigators are trying to determine whether the vice chairman of Samsung provided as much as $38 million to a friend of impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye in exchange for government support. Prosecutors say Lee funded Park’s associate—Choi Soon-sil—to help him restructure Samsung, and transition into his expected role as leader of the company.
Lee admits Samsung did give a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi’s daughter, but he has denied all bribery charges.
The head of Samsung was questioned by prosecutors in January, but escaped arrest when the South Korean court rejected the charges. On Friday, the court said it was necessary to arrest Lee in light of new criminal evidence, including hiding proceeds and violating the law on transferring assets overseas.
“The rationale for and the necessity of his arrest is acknowledged considering the new charges and additional evidence collected,” Seoul Central District Court said in a text message sent to reporters, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
The arrest was made in fear that the business magnate might flee or destroy evidence, according to the Bloomberg report. It does not reflect the court’s opinion on Lee’s guilt or innocence.
The investigation will continue with prosecution given 20 days to file charges. It may take as long as 18 months for a trial and verdict, according to the report.