"The special prosecutors' office, in making this decision to seek an arrest warrant, determined that while the country's economic conditions are important, upholding justice takes precedence," special prosecution spokesman Lee Kyu-Chul told a media briefing.
Prosecutors say they have evidence showing that Park and Choi Soon-sil, a friend of the president, shared profits which were made through bribery payments. The prosecutors allege that Lee paid out bribes totaling 43 billion won ($36.42 million), to Choi Soon-sil so that he could secure the merger of two affiliates thus cementing his control of the family business in 2015.
Lee will appear on Wednesday at the Seoul Central District Court for a hearing to decide whether the arrest warrant will be granted.
In an emailed statement, Samsung refuted the prosecutor's bribery claims. The statement said in part, "It 's hard to understand the special prosecutors' decision.."
The merger under investigation involved Samsung C&T Corp and Cheil Industries Inc. and was worth $8 billion. Samsung allegedly supported foundations and a company owned by Choi Soon-sil so that the merger could be pushed.
Samsung has acknowledged that it provided funds, but denies the money was for lobbying to push through the merger.