May 10, 2019 / 6:39 PM / 16 days ago

South Korea orders arrest of two Samsung Electronics officials over affiliate's accounting scandal

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean court said on Saturday it had approved warrants to arrest two senior officials at Samsung Electronics in relation to an alleged accounting fraud at the tech giant’s biopharma affiliate.

The Seoul Central District Court said in a statement it had granted warrants to arrest the officials suspected of destroying evidence in the case.

Prosecutors accused the two Samsung Electronics officials of ordering employees at biopharmaceutical firm Samsung BioLogics to destroy internal documents, as authorities looked into an alleged violation of accounting rules at the BioLogics, according to local media reports.

Samsung Electronics was not available for comment.

In November, the country’s financial watchdog said the biotech arm of Samsung Group intentionally breached accounting rules ahead of its 2016 listing and reported the case to prosecutors, which later launched a criminal investigation.

The widening probe comes at an awkward time for the country’s top conglomerate Samsung Group, as heir Jay Y.Lee is awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on bribery charges and politicians are calling for transparency in its governance.

Samsung BioLogics has been touted as a new growth engine for the corporate empire that includes crown jewel Samsung Electronics amid a slowdown in the global smartphone market.

Samsung Electronics is the second-biggest shareholder of BioLogics with a 31.5 percent stake.

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Mark Potter

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