Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-Hye slapped with bribing charges

South Korean prosecutors Monday indicted the second top businessman suspected of involvement in the bribery scandal that led to the arrest of ex-President Park Geun-hye and her childhood friend.

Park was also charged with abuse of power and coercion by pressuring big businesses to contribute funds to non-profit foundations, the prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also released a formal charge against Lotte Group chairman, Shin Dong-bin, after allegations of bribing Park with money in exchange for government license to open up a new Duty Free shop, ABC reported.

Park was forced out of office by massive, but peaceful, popular protests.She was impeached late past year, stripped of power in March and confined to a detention facility near Seoul since her arrest last month on chrges that she colluded with a confidante to extort from businesses, take bribes and commit other wrongdoing (See: S Korea ex-president Park Geun-hye jailed as court denies bail).

Lotte's chief Shin is also on a separate graft trial involving family members charged with embezzlement and breach of trust.

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.

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. "We find the decision on the indictment regrettable", Lotte Group said in a statement.

Though unpopular among many South Koreans, she still has supporters, and some conservative politicians and media outlets are already demanding her pardon in tghe event of a conviction.

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

The prosecution said that Park solicited or was promised to receive bribes totaling 59.2 billion won - 43.3 billion won from Samsung, 7 billion won from Lotte and 8.9 billion won from SK - for Choi-controlled entities. Park's friend Choi is also on trial for a series of charges, which her lawyers have denied.

The scandal prompted millions of people to take to the street for weeks, calling for the ousting of the president. It is unclear if the trial will start before a 9 May special election that will determine her successor.

Official campaigning for the election kicked off yesterday.

  • Leroy Wright