South Korean prosecutors say they will charge Samsung chief Jay Y. Lee with bribery and embezzlement.
Jay Y. Lee, 48, was arrested on February 17 over his alleged role in the corruption scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye, dealing a fresh blow to the standard-bearer for Asia's fourth-largest economy.
The special prosecutor's office said on Tuesday, the last day of its investigation, that it would charge Lee, third-generation leader of the tech giant, and four other executives with bribery and embezzlement.
It also said it would charge him with pledging bribes to a company and organisations tied to Park's confidant, Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the scandal, to cement his control of the smartphones-to-biopharmaceuticals business empire.
"We apologise for the social controversy and distress we have caused," Samsung Group Executive Vice President Lee June told reporters.
The announcement came ahead of a Constitutional Court ruling on whether to uphold parliament's December impeachment of Park.
That impeachment was triggered by accusations that she colluded with Choi to pressure big businesses, including Samsung, to donate to two foundations set up to back the President's policy initiatives.
The 65-year-old daughter of a former military strongman has had her powers suspended. The Constitutional Court's ruling is expected sometime in March.
The special prosecutor's office did not disclose specifics of the charges against Lee or other Samsung executives. Samsung Group, which has denied paying bribes to Park or seeking improper favours from her, declined to comment on the indictment.
Park, Choi and Lee have all denied wrongdoing. Based on the main charges levied against Lee, he could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
On Tuesday, the special prosecutor's office said it would also indict four others at Samsung on charges including bribery and hiding assets overseas: group Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung, President Chang Choong-ki, Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin and Executive Vice President Hwang Sung-soo.
Samsung Group said in its subsequent announcement that Choi, Chang and Park had resigned.
Samsung chief Lee is accused of pledging 43 billion won (NZ$52.6 million) in bribes to a company and organisations backed by President Park's confidant, Choi, to curry favour and cement his control of the conglomerate.
It was not immediately clear when Lee's trial would begin.