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Court rejects arrest warrant for Samsung BioLogics CEO

A Seoul court on Saturday rejected an arrest warrant for the head of Samsung BioLogics Co., who is under suspicion of abetting the destruction of evidence related to an accounting scandal.

The Seoul Central District Court said "there is room for dispute" over Samsung BioLogics CEO Kim Tae-han's supposed role in destroying evidence of the company's alleged window dressing in 2015.  

The court, however, approved arrest warrants for two vice presidents of Samsung Electronics Co., the flagship unit, on allegations of destroying and manipulating evidences related to the accounting scandal.

The financial watchdog last year ruled Samsung BioLogics violated accounting rules in 2015 by inflating the value of affiliate group Samsung Bioepis, but BioloLogics said it complied with international accounting standards.

The investigation has gained steam after prosecutors discovered a computer server and tens of notebooks concealed under the floor of a Samsung BioLogics plant in Incheon, west of Seoul, in a raid earlier this month.

Samsung Biologics CEO Kim Tae-han (Yonhap)
Samsung Biologics CEO Kim Tae-han (Yonhap)

Two senior executives of Samsung Electronics as well as two executives of Samsung Bioepis, a health care subsidiary, have been put into pretrial detention over the past month on suspicion of destroying and manipulating evidence related to the BioLogics case.

The widening probe into Samsung's biopharmaceutical unit is a burden on Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who is awaiting the Supreme Court's ruling on his bribery case.

Lee, the de facto leader of South Korea's top conglomerate, was released from prison in February last year after being locked up for nearly a year on charges of providing bribes to ousted President Park Geun-hye's confidante.

Civic groups claimed the alleged window dressing was ultimately intended to enhance the Samsung heir's control of the sprawling group by inflating Cheil Industries Inc.'s stake in Samsung BioLogics ahead of its merger with Samsung C&T Corp. in 2015.

Earlier this month, Rep. Park Yong-jin of the ruling Democratic Party suggested the top court deliver its ruling on Lee after the investigation into Samsung BioLogics is completed to find the link between its alleged accounting fraud and Lee's third-generation succession to the leadership of Samsung Group. (Yonhap)