South Korea's corruption scandal ensnares 2nd top boss

According to BBC, prosecutors have charged the ousted South Korean president with bribery, coercion, abuse of power and leaking state secrets.

The indictment includes multiple charges of abuse of power, extortion, bribery, and leaking state secrets, the Associated Press reports.

Park, 65, was charged with colluding with her longtime confidante Choi Soon-sil to receive tens of millions of US dollars in bribes from Samsung Group and Lotte Group, while demanding millions dollars from SK Group.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was also charged Monday with buying favors by paying out 7 billion won ($6 million) to one of the nonprofit organizations - the K-Sports foundation - linked to Park and allegedly controlled by Choi.

Dozens of high-level figures, including Park's friend of 40 years, Choi Soon-sil, top administration officials and Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong have already been indicted and await separate criminal trials (S Korean business tycoons face questions in parliament over donations for favours scandal).

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

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrives at the Seoul Central District Court for a hearing in late March.

Amid signs that she had long lost her grip on reality, Park made a couple of half-hearted apologies in which she claimed she only permitted Choi to edit a few of her speeches and muttered darkly about a stitch-up.

Park was expelled from office on March 10, with less than a year remaining in her five-year term, in a unanimous decision by the Constitutional Court to finalize her parliamentary impeachment over the corruption scandal.

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

Park's downfall and the presidential election in South Korea also have the potential to rattle the delicate balance of worldwide diplomacy in Asia at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea. Both women deny the charges.

Park will stay in jail during her trial due to start in weeks from now that could last up to six months. Lee, who also goes by the name Jay Y. Lee, faces allegations he approved bribes of more than $38 million directed toward Choi's private slush fund.

Prosecutors were reportedly keen to finish the investigation before Monday's launch of the May 9 presidential election campaign.

  • Leroy Wright