Special prosecutors to decide on arrest warrant against Samsung heir as early as Monday

Special prosecutors investigating a corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her friend said Sunday that they are close to deciding whether to seek an arrest warrant against the de facto leader of Samsung Group on bribery charges, source from the Yonhap.

This photo, taken on Jan. 13, 2017, shows Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., appearing at the office of Independent Counsel Park Young-soo in Seoul for questioning over bribery allegations. (Yonhap)

The prosecutors said the decision could come as early as Monday and said that they are in the "final" review process regarding the warrant, taking into account various factors, including the possible impact of the arrest of Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., on the country's weak economy.

"We plan to make a decision on whether to seek the warrant before a regular press briefing tomorrow (at 2:30 p.m. on Monday)," said Lee Kyu-chul, the spokesman for the probe team led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo.

"We are taking into account all of issues raised so far, but the most important factor for us to consider is the law and principle," he added.

Lee allegedly gave billions of won to various organizations linked to Park's confidante, Choi Soon-sil, in return for the government's backing of a controversial merger of two Samsung affiliates in July 2015. The group has acknowledged providing funds to the organizations but denied they were a bribe.

Lee was grilled by the special prosecutors for 22 hours until early Friday.

The charges under consideration include bribery and, depending on the source of the funds, embezzlement and breach of trust. Lee is accused of giving false testimony during a parliamentary hearing last month, during which he claimed to have "never" made donations expecting something in return.

Meanwhile, special prosecutors are poised to summon Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun and Kim Ki-choon, former presidential chief of staff, possibly this week over the allegations that the Park administration had blacklisted certain cultural figures.

They have been looking into the suspicion that Cho and Kim were involved in the alleged creation and management of a blacklist intended to block dissident artists from getting state support.

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