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Samsung’s Billionaire Chief is Arrested and Imprisoned

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Samsung’s Billionaire Chief is Arrested and Imprisoned
Christina Comben

In a move that has sent shock waves throughout the world, Samsung’s CEO, Jay Y. Lee was arrested early Friday morning and thrown in a jail cell. Lee belongs to the richest family in South Korea and is the third-generation leader of global giant, Samsung Group.

What are the charges? The 48-year-old Samsung chief, Lee, is being held in connection with South Korea’s most sensational corruption scandal that lead to President Park Geun-hye being impeached. While he denies any part of the complot, his new home is currently a small prison cell with only a corner toilet and a mattress on the floor for a bed. He has no shower.

Lee is being held in isolation and is not allowed to have contact with any other inmates. The Seoul Detention Center is where politicians and high-profile business executives are usually held. According to Reuters, other key figures involved in the case were already being held here and it’s imperative that Lee is denied access to them.

Why the single cell?

A detention center official informed Reuters that there were concerns of evidence being destroyed and that Lee should not be able to communicate with other suspects. It was not out of any special treatment that he was given a private cell. At the current time, there is no official statement from Lee’s lawyers about the case. They have so far declined to comment.

Private cell or no, a life behind bars with a mattress on the floor is a long way from the $4 million Seoul mansion in which he usually resides. With a net worth of $6.2 billion, Lee is well-known among the tech circuits and has met frequently with Apple’s Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Lee is being allowed visitors, but they may only speak through a glass partition for a 30-minute period. He may also leave his cell to exercise, but is restricted to just 30 minutes a day, on his own. Lee was issued an inmate uniform and given a full physical examination, just like any other inmate.

What happens next?

Prosecutors have a 10-day period to indict Lee, although it is possible that they will seek an extension. Should indictment occur, a court ruling should be made within three months.

Some of Lee’s fellow inmates include friend of President Park Geun-hye, Choi Soon-sil, named at the epicenter of the scandal. Samsung chief, Lee, is accused of having bribed Choi Soon-sil. Also being detained is the former minister of culture and former presidential chief of staff.

Whatever the outcome of the next few weeks, it is certain to be a tense time not only for Lee, but for Samsung shareholders as well.

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