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Samsung’s Billionaire Heir is Now in Jail With Only a Mattress on the Floor

Following his arrest last Friday, South Korean billionaire and Samsung chief Lee Jae-Yong has now been placed in a 71-square-foot detention cell with nothing but a washstand and a mattress on the floor.

Lee’s current jail cell at the Seoul Detention Centre is isolated as he is not allowed to be in contact with other inmates. While it doesn’t even have a shower, it does have a toilet behind a partition in a corner, reported Reuters.

Accused “of bribery, embezzlement and perjury”, the 48-year-old third-generation leader of the multi-billion dollar electronics firm was implicated in a high-profile corruption scandal currently being reviewed by the Constitutional Court. It is the same case that has left South Korean President Park Geun-Hye impeached. The Seoul central district court found him to have given bribes worth almost $37.2 M  to then South Korean president Park and her close friend Choi Soon-Sil.

Lee Jae-Yong has denied all allegations linking him to the scandal. Prosecutors will have 10 days to have him indicted, after which, a court would provide a ruling within three months. Unless prosecutors requests for an extension.

An official at the facility, where jailed politicians and corporate heads are usually detained, explained that they isolated Lee to keep him from discussing the case with the others who are also involved.

“This is a highly public case, and as you know many involved in the case were already here,” the official told Reuters. “There are concerns about destroying evidence.”

The official also clarified that no special treatment was being given to the business magnate.

As standard protocol, Lee was subjected to an identification check, physical examination and issued an inmate uniform and boxes with toiletries and bedding, according to a jail officer. 

Lee will be provided meals worth $1.25 each, consisting mainly of rice with side dishes served on plastic trays and slid through a small opening in the cell door. Additional food, however, can be bought at the center’s commissary.

Among his perks, include being able to watch TV from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., although limited to a single channel with pre-recorded programs selected by the justice ministry.

For recreation, Lee Jae-Yong is also permitted a daily 30-minute exercise. He is allowed to entertain visitors for up to 30 minutes at a time and with a glass partition in between.

With a net worth of $6.2 billion, Lee has been listed as the most powerful Korean by Forbes Magazine (currently 40th in the world ). Prior to his arrest, he was serving as the de facto head of the Samsung Group, the world’s premiere manufacturer of electronic products.

Used to living in a million-dollar mansion, he will now have to get used to his relatively smaller, temporary abode.


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