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S Korea mulls more arrest warrants for Samsung executives over graft

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Lee Jae-yong (C), the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, is surrounded by reporters in Seoul on February 13, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The South Korean special prosecutor's office says it will decide whether to seek arrest warrants for more Samsung Group executives as part of an ongoing investigation into an influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special team of prosecutors, said on Monday that four executives other than Lee Jae-yong, Samsung's vice chairman and the son of the Samsung group's boss Lee Kun-hee, had been identified as suspects.

The spokesman noted that a decision on whether to seek their arrest would be made after questioning.

Prosecutors had previously said they would not seek arrests for any Samsung officials other than Lee, who has twice been questioned over his alleged role in South Korea's biggest political corruption scandal.

The 48-year-old Samsung chief was summoned by prosecutors on Monday for a second grilling over corruption claims.

The Samsung chief had already been questioned with several other company executives in January.

Last month, the Seoul Central District Court turned down a prosecution request for the arrest of Lee, citing inadequacy of evidence.

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Journalists wait for Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong to exit a detention center after a court refused to issue an arrest warrant over his role in a corruption scandal engulfing President Park Geun-Hye, in Seoul early on January 19, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

President Park has been hit by a months-old major corruption scandal, in which the first female president of the country has faced allegations of collusion with her long-time confidante Choi Soon-sil to pressure major corporations to contribute money to non-profit foundations Choi controlled.

The special prosecutors claim that Lee had paid or promised bribes totaling 43 billion won (36.42 million dollars) to Choi to win governmental favors.

Park has been impeached by parliament and is awaiting a constitutional court verdict on the validity of the parliament’s impeachment vote over the matter. She remains stripped of her presidential powers in the meantime.

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