Lee will face questioning on January 12th. It’s doubtful he’ll tell officials what they’d like to hear, though. While Samsung has acknowledged that it paid Choi’s organizations, Lee and others have insisted that they weren’t trying to grease the wheels for the merger.
There’s no guarantee that Lee will face arrest, let alone conviction. However, the very fact that he’s a suspect won’t look good for Samsung, which has bent over backwards to keep its ruling family in power. Lee’s father (Chairman Lee Kun-hee) has been pardoned more than once for crimes like tax evasion, and the last time only because the government wanted his help securing the 2018 Winter Olympics. What happens if his son also faces possible prison time? It’ll further tarnish Samsung’s reputation, of course, but it could also cause chaos for a firm that has never had someone besides a Lee running the show.