The move spells fresh trouble for Lee, who, if arrested, faces a return to jail just a little over two years after being released from detention in February 2018.
Lee already faces trial on a charge of bribery aimed at winning support to succeed ailing group patriarch Lee Kun-hee, and which involved former President Park Geun-hye, and spent a year in detention until the bribery case was suspended in 2018.
Prosecutors said they sought Lee’s arrest on suspicions of stock price manipulation and audit rule violations, among other offences.
Samsung declined to comment. Shares of Samsung Electronics were up 1.1%, outperforming a rise of 0.2% in the benchmark .KS11.
Prosecutors have been investigating suspected accounting fraud at drug company Samsung Biologics (207940.KS) after the Korean financial watchdog complained the firm’s value had been inflated by 4.5 trillion won ($3.7 billion) in 2015.
Prosecutors contend the violation helped boost the value of its major owner, Cheil Industries, which counted Lee as its top shareholder, and merged with Samsung C&T, a de facto holding firm, Yonhap news agency said.