South Korea orders further arrests at Samsung Electronics over accounting scandal

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) – A South Korean court approved arrest warrants on Saturday for two executives at Samsung Electronics Co Ltd over their alleged roles in a suspected accounting fraud at the biotech arm of Samsung Group.

The Seoul Central District Court said in a statement it had granted warrants to arrest the executives due to concerns over possible destruction of evidence.

However, the court rejected the prosecution’s request for a warrant to arrest the chief executive of Samsung BioLogics Co Ltd.

Two Samsung Electronics officials were also arrested on suspicion of destroying evidence earlier this month.

South Korea’s financial watchdog in November accused the biotech arm of Samsung Group of breaking accounting rules ahead of its 2016 listing, sparking a criminal investigation.

Both Samsung Electronics and Samsung BioLogics were not immediately available for comment.

The widening probe comes at an awkward time for Samsung Group, South Korea’s top family-run conglomerate, as de facto head and heir Jay Y.Lee awaits a Supreme Court ruling on bribery charges and political pressure builds for greater transparency in its governance.

Samsung BioLogics had been touted as a new growth engine for Samsung Group amid a slowdown in the global smartphone market. Samsung Electronics is the second-biggest shareholder of BioLogics with a 31.5 percent stake.

Samsung Electronics had no comment on the case earlier, except that it was cooperating with prosecutors.

Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Editing by Stephen Coates and Elane Hardcastle

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