Samsung chief awaits arrest decision

Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, center, is questioned by reporters upon his arrival for a hearing at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, on Thursday. (AP)
Updated 16 February 2017
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Samsung chief awaits arrest decision

SEOUL: Samsung Group leader Jay Y. Lee left a Seoul court after more than eight hours on Thursday to await a decision on whether he will be arrested over his alleged role in a corruption scandal that has engulfed President Park Geun-hye.
The 48-year-old Lee, wearing a dark coat and navy tie, kept his head down and did not answer reporters’ questions as he left the Seoul Central District Court after the closed-door hearing, and headed to a detention center pending a judge’s ruling.
A decision may come late on Thursday or early Friday, based on previous instances. Last month, the same court rejected the special prosecutor’s request that Lee be arrested.
“The basic relationship of the facts and the structure of the argument were not very different from the previous warrant,” one of Lee’s lawyers, Song Wu-cheol, told reporters outside the court.
“I believe the court will make a wise decision,” he said.
The corruption scandal erupted late last year and has engulfed South Korea’s political and business elite.
Park was impeached by parliament in December over accusations that she colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back the president’s policy initiatives.
Park has been stripped of her powers while the Constitutional Court decides whether to uphold her impeachment. The court said on Thursday it planned to wrap up hearings in the case by Feb. 24.
Park has denied wrongdoing, as has her friend, Choi.
The special prosecutor’s office has focused its investigations on Samsung Group’s relationship with Park. Lee and the Samsung Group deny any wrongdoing.
‘Never bribed’
Prosecutors accuse Lee in his capacity as the head of South Korea’s largest conglomerate of pledging South Korean Won 43 billion ($37.7 million) to a business and organizations backed by Choi in exchange for support of a 2015 merger of two Samsung companies.
That funding includes Samsung’s sponsorship of the equestrian career of Choi’s daughter, who is in detention in Denmark after being sought by South Korean authorities, prosecutors say.
They are also seeking the arrest of the president of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd, Park Sang-jin, who also heads the Korea Equestrian Federation and attended Thursday’s hearing with Lee.
In January, the court rejected the prosecution’s request for an arrest warrant for Lee.
But a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said on Wednesday it had since then expanded the charges against Lee to include hiding the proceeds of a criminal act, as well as bribery, embezzlement, hiding assets overseas and perjury.
On Wednesday, Samsung Group repeated an earlier denial on its official Twitter account: “Samsung has absolutely never bribed the president seeking something in return or sought illicit favors.”
“We will do our best for the truth to be revealed in court,” it said.
If Lee is arrested it could deal a serious blow to Samsung, the world’s biggest maker of smartphones, memory chips and flat-screen televisions, potentially hampering strategic decision-making such as new investments and acquisitions.
Park, who remains in the presidential Blue House, could become the first democratically elected leader in South Korea to be forced from office.
Also on Thursday, the Seoul Administrative Court rejected a request by the special prosecutor to search the presidential Blue House, which follows an earlier failed attempt to do so.


Abu Dhabi, Shanghai plan exchange focusing on China trade

Updated 24 April 2018
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Abu Dhabi, Shanghai plan exchange focusing on China trade

DUBAI: The emirate’s international financial center, has agreed in principle with the Shanghai Stock Exchange to cooperate in establishing an exchange focusing on China’s foreign trade and investment, ADGM said on Monday.
The partners signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the exchange in Abu Dhabi. It would cater to companies and investors involved in China’s Belt and Road initiative, a Beijing-backed drive to win trade and investment deals along routes linking China to Europe.
“At ADGM, we have the international platform to serve different kinds of enterprises and investors — global, regional and local — seeking exposure to the Middle East and North Africa and Belt and Road projects,” said Richard Teng, chief executive of ADGM’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority.
Teng said he could not give specifics of which instruments the new exchange would trade or when it might open, saying this would depend on demand among stakeholders in both ADGM and Shanghai.
Chinese financial institutions have approached ADGM to discuss the financial environment in Abu Dhabi and their development needs in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), he added.
Trade and investment ties between China and the GCC have been growing rapidly. The region is a big oil supplier to China, and Sino-United Arab Emirates trade exceeded $46 billion in 2016, according to Beijing’s official Xinhua news agency.
Ultimately, the new exchange will support not only the Belt and Road initiative but also the internationalization of the Chinese yuan in the region, Teng said.
Abu Dhabi is trying to build up ADGM, which opened in October 2015 and is smaller than the international financial center in neighboring Dubai, as part of a drive to develop its economy beyond oil exports.