Prosecutors in South Korea seek arrest of Samsung vice chairman

Prosecutors in South Korea have asked for the arrest of Samsung's Vice Chairman Lee Jae-young.

The special prosecutor's office requested the court to approve a warrant for the arrest of Mr Lee, 48, who is the de facto head of the country's biggest company.

Mr Lee is wanted as a suspect in the corruption scandal that has rocked the country and engulfed President Park Geun-hye's administration.

The prosecutor's office also indicted ex-health minister Moon Hyung-pyo on suspicion of abusing his power, in supporting a controversial Samsung merger in 2015.

A file photo of the Samsung sign outside the company headquarters in Seoul. Credit: PA

Last week investigators questioned Mr Lee on allegations he paid bribes to win government favours controlled by Choi Soon-sil, who is a long-time friend of President Geun-hye.

Mr Soon-sil has denied any knowledge of the alleged bribes.

She told a hearing: "Even if I knew, I could not have passed on any information because I have no knowledge about mergers or hedge funds, anything like that, in the first place."

Meanwhile Samsung said: "It is difficult to understand the special prosecution's decision" [to request an arrest warrant for Mr Lee].