Ex-President Park Geun-hye indicted in corruption probe

South Korean prosecutors on Monday indicted former President Park Geun-hye, who has been impeached and arrested, on multiple corruption charges including bribery and abuse of power.

With the indictment, the prosecutors ended a six-month, multifaceted probe into the corruption scandal that forced Park out of office last month.

Park's indictment is reported to be a widely expected follow-up after she was arrested on 31 March on numerous charges including leaking government secrets.

The sixty-five-year-old has been accused of colluding with her confidante Choi Soon-Sil to receive bribes from Lotte and Samsung.

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.

Park, Choi and Samsung's top executive have all denied any wrongdoing.

Both Moon and Ahn criticized the hard-line North Korean policy of Park's government and Washington.

Choi is on trial for coercion and abuse of power.

Lotte, South Korea's fifth-biggest conglomerate, is grappling with the Chinese shutdown of dozens of its stores in China after it agreed to provide land for the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system outside Seoul.

In another blow to Lotte Group, whose family members are already standing trial for their involvement in embezzlement, tax evasion and fraud, its chief Shin was indicted for seeking a favor from Park to secure a business license for its duty-free shop by contributing 7 billion won to the K-Sports Foundation.

South Korea pardoned two of its convicted former leaders in the late 1990s in a bid for national reconciliation amid a financial crisis, and its court had until recently shown leniency toward corrupt business tycoons because of worries about hurting the economy.

The $US52 million they were accused of collecting or demanding in bribes from businesses included $US38 million in bribes or promised bribes from Samsung.

She lost her presidential immunity and was dismissed from her post when the constitutional court upheld a decision by parliament in December to impeach her.

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.

Prosecutors have been accelerating the investigation to conclude it before Monday's launch of the official campaign for the May 9 presidential election.

The former leader, already detained at a center near Seoul, also faces charges of abusing her powers and leaking state secrets.

  • Leroy Wright