South Korea's ex-president Park charged with bribery

The scandal shed light on the 65-year-old Park's questionable, decades-long ties to Choi and Choi's father, a shady religious figure who wielded huge influence on Park from the 1970s until his death in 1994.

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

Ousted South Korean President Park Geun-hye arrives for questioning on her arrest warrant at the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, on March 30.

Park has denied any legal wrongdoing, arguing that she only got help from Choi to edit some presidential speeches and on public relations. But it denies providing the money in return for any political favors.

Park is also accused of offering policy favours to top businessmen who enriched Choi, including Samsung heir Lee Jae-Yong who was arrested earlier and is also on trial for bribery.

Park is accused of leaking state secrets to Choi, a high school graduate with no title or security clearance, and letting her handle a wide range of state affairs including senior nomination.

Park will face court proceedings while remaining in detention.

It is unclear if Park's trial period will begin before May 9's special election day that will determine who will replace her as South Korea's president.

But a more damning charge against Park and Choi was bribery.

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.

Prosecutors charged Shin without detaining him. "But as for SK Group, we confirmed that the company was asked to offer money, but it did not actually provide the money", the prosecution's spokesman Roh Seung-kwon told reporters during a briefing.

If convicted, her bribery charge carries the biggest legal punishment, ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment.

Park Geun Hye, South Korea's president, attends a closing session at the Nuclear Security Summit April 1, 2016 in Washington, D.C. After a spate of terrorist attacks from Europe to Africa, Obama is rallying global support during the summit for an effort to keep Islamic State and similar groups from obtaining nuclear material and other weapons of mass destruction.

  • Leroy Wright