Samsung Group leader, Jay Y Lee, will be questioned on Wednesday (11 January) by South Korea's special prosecutor's office as a suspect in the influence-peddling scandal that has also engulfed the country's President Park Geun-hye.
The prosecutor's office will interrogate Jay, also known as Lee Jae-yong, in the case to find out whether the tech giant's donation of about 30bn won ($25m, £20.5m) to foundations, backed by Park's friend Choi Soon-sil, were connected to the 2015 national pension service's decision to approve the controversial merger of two group companies, Reuters reported.
The tie-up was widely criticised as it is said to have boosted the founder family's control over the group at the cost of other shareholders.
Choi Soon-sil has been accused of meddling with state affairs and asking businesses to donate money to non-profit organisations.
The development came after two senior Samsung Group executives – Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung and President Chang Choong-ki – were called for questioning on Monday by the prosecutors. However, later they were considered witnesses.
Lee, the vice chairman of flagship affiliate Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, has managed the Korean top conglomerate since May 2014 after his father and founding patriarch Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack.
When asked if the prosecution team would request an arrest warrant for the Samsung Group leader, Lee Kyu-chul, a spokesman for the special prosecution team said: "All possibilities are open."
On the other hand, a Samsung Group spokesman refused to comment.
Meanwhile, the impeachment trial of President Park started last week. The scandal-hit leader, who was impeached on 9 December after 234 lawmakers voted against her, could become the nation's first democratically elected leader to leave the office early in shame if the court found her guilty.
The Constitutional Court has 180 days to decide to either uphold or overturn the impeachment vote.