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South Korea's corruption scandal ensnares 2nd top boss

22 April 2017

South Korea's recently impeached and ousted president, Park Geun-hye, was formally indicted on charges of collecting or demanding $US52 million ($68.6million) in bribes, becoming the first leader put on criminal trial since the mid-1990s, when two former military-backed presidents were imprisoned for corruption and mutiny.

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.

The indictment by Seoul prosecutors covers multiple charges, including abuse of power, extortion, bribery and leaking state secrets.

Prosecutors and an independent counsel indicted no fewer than 42 suspects in the scandal, including Choi and former Park aides An Chong-bum and Kim Ki-choon, whose trial has been going on for months already.

Prosecutors yesterday also charged Shin Dong Bin, chairman of retail giant Lotte Group, with bribing Choi and Park.

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Park will remain in a Seoul prison and will be transported to and from the Seoul Central District Court [official website] for the entirety of her trial.

Shin allegedly offered 7 billion won to a sports foundation linked with Choi in exchange for a policy favor from Park over Lotte's duty-free business.

Lee, the de facto chief of Samsung, is already on trial along with four other executives from the company.

Park has denied any legal wrongdoing, arguing that she only got help from Choi to edit some presidential speeches and on public relations.

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.

Ousted South Korean President Charged with Bribery
Shin and other members of the family behind Lotte are already on trial in a separate corruption case involving the company. It is unclear if the trial will be under way before 9 May when a special election will be held to determine her successor.

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.

Leading candidates in the May 9 election to replace her include Mr Moon Jae In, the runner-up to Park in 2012, and centrist Ahn Cheol Soo.

South Korea, which accuses China or discriminating against some South Korean companies working in China, and the United States say the sole goal of THAAD is to guard against North Korean missiles.

Park Geun-hye once described Choi (60), as someone who helped her when she had difficulties in the past, an apparent reference to her parents' deaths.

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South Korea's corruption scandal ensnares 2nd top boss