A two-judge panel ruled that an arrest warrant issued against Lee by a local court in Ghaziabad, near New Delhi, would not be executed for six weeks, according to an order posted on the court’s website.
Lee will have to appear before the local court and can seek bail and an exemption from further hearings, the Supreme Court judges ruled.
Lee, 72, is South Korea’s richest man with a net worth of $11.2 billion, according to Forbes.
In a statement, Samsung said Lee had no connection with the case, which it said was related to a “multi-million dollar fraud scheme” perpetrated against a subsidiary in Dubai. Samsung declined to comment on whether Lee would appear in court.
“There are no grounds, let alone evidence, to support the accusation against Chairman Lee,” the company said. “We are confident that the Indian courts will recognise the innocence of Chairman Lee and deliver justice.”
The Supreme Court’s verdict came after an appeal by Lee, who local media said had sought to have the criminal proceedings against him dropped. The Supreme Court dismissed his petition.
“We make it clear that we have not expressed any opinion in regard to the merit of the case,” the panel of judges said in its order for Lee to appear.
The dispute dates back to 2001-2002 when an Indian company, JCE Consultancy, signed a pact to supply products to Sky Impex Ltd, which was to transfer the products to Samsung Gulf Electronics, Dubai, court documents showed.
JCE Consultancy filed a criminal complaint in 2005, saying it had not received payment, and named the Samsung unit and Lee among the accused.
Samsung’s full statement
With respect to the March 31, 2014 Order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India, we would clarify as follows.
This case is related to a multi-million dollar fraud scheme perpetrated against a Samsung subsidiary in Dubai, Samsung Gulf Electronics. The perpetrators of the fraud were convicted years ago in Dubai to 2 years in prison, but having illegally fled justice, are now wanted by the Government of the UAE. Samsung Gulf Electronics is a victim of this fraud scheme.
Despite this, a private criminal complaint was filed by a party in India claiming to have received a bill-of-exchange used in this fraud. Chairman Lee has no relation to this case whatsoever. There are no grounds, let alone evidence, to support the accusation against Chairman Lee. Chairman Lee is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the many overseas subsidiaries of Samsung.
We are confident that the Indian Courts will recognize the innocence of Chairman Lee and deliver justice.