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Ousted South Korean President Charged with Bribery

22 April 2017

Former President Park Geun-hye received 59.2 billion won ($52.1 million) in bribes, South Korean prosecutors said Monday, indicting the leader on a total of 18 charges.

Former President Park Geun-hye arrives at a detention center in Uiwang, south of Seoul, in a vehicle on March 31, 2017, after a court issued a warrant to arrest her in connection with a corruption scandal that led to her removal from office.

She was indicted Monday on counts of bribery, abuse of power, coercion and sharing state secrets.

SK chairman Chey Tae-won narrowly escapes prosecution because his conglomerate refused to submit to demands for extra cash after a hefty initial donation to Choi's dubious Mir and K-Sports foundations.

Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong is on trial for offering or promising to offer bribes to Park and Choi in return for helping him tighten his control over his firm through a merger of two key units.

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Prosecutors yesterday also charged the chairman of retail giant Lotte Group with bribery.

Park, whose impeachment was confirmed by Seoul's top court last month, is at the center of a sprawling graft probe that has also implicated top businessmen and brought millions of people onto the streets.

Shin and other members of the family behind Lotte are already on trial in a separate corruption case involving the company. Park and Choi are accused of receiving $68 million, with about half of that money coming from Samsung. He has also now been indicted, although the conglomerate got the money back last summer when the scandal started to unravel and Cheong Wa Dae became eager to erase the paper trail. It is unclear if the trial will be under way before 9 May when a special election will be held to determine her successor.

If found guilty, Park could spend the rest of her life in prison.

But the independent counsel, which ended its 70-day probe into the scandal on February 28, concluded that part of Samsung's donations had been bribes made in return for political favors.

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The former president was also accused of leaking confidential government documents to Choi who allegedly intervened in state affairs though she was a civilian without any government post.

Park will face court proceedings while remaining in detention. Prosecutors suspect that Park promised favors regarding the two conglomerates' bids to operate duty-free shops and other pending issues.

Lotte denied allegations that it made improper deals with Park, or those linked to her, for favors, but said it would explain itself at court to resolve suspicions.

Park has repeatedly apologised for the upset caused by the scandal but never admitted any wrongdoing, blaming Choi for abusing their friendship. Park was removed from office on March 10th and later arrested by South Korean authorities on March 30th.

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Ousted South Korean President Charged with Bribery