For Jay Y. Lee, the third-generation leader of South Korea’s massive Samsung Group and scion of the country’s wealthiest family, home is now a 6.56 square meter (71 square foot) detention cell with a toilet in the corner behind a partition.
He has no shower, only a wash-stand. Bed is a mattress on the floor.
The 48-year-old Lee was arrested early on Friday for his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, a decision that is being reviewed by the country’s Constitutional Court..
He has denied any wrongdoing.
Lee is being held in a single cell and will not be allowed contact with other inmates, said an official at the Seoul Detention Centre, a facility on the outskirts of the city where arrested politicians and corporate chieftains are usually held, along with other detainees.
“This is a highly public case, and as you know many involved in the case were already here,” the official told Reuters.
Prison officials don’t want Lee discussing the case with others involved in the case, the official said, explaining why the Samsung scion was being held in a single cell. Also, there may be safety issues.
“There are concerns about destroying evidence,” the official said, adding that Lee was not being given special treatment.
Lee’s lawyers declined to comment.
Lee, who is divorced with two children, has a net worth of $6.2 billion and ordinarily lives in a $4 million Seoul mansion. The Samsung Group he heads is the world’s biggest manufacturer of smartphones, flat-screen televisions and memory chips, and Lee is accustomed to rubbing elbows with Silicon Valley titans such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Apple’s Tim Cook.
An accomplished equestrian, Lee is also a lifetime member of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews in Scotland.
At the detention centre, Lee will be allowed visitors but they can speak only through a glass partition, for up to 30 minutes at a time. However, inmates are allowed unlimited meeting time with their lawyers.
He can exercise, but on his own, for 30 minutes a day.