Ex-S.Korean president Park Geun-hye indicted on corruption charges

Source: Xinhua| 2017-04-17 18:53:53|Editor: Lu Hui
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SEOUL, April 17 (Xinhua) -- 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.

Park was accused of taking a total of 59.2 billion won (52 million U.S. dollars) in bribes both directly and indirectly from business conglomerates, called chaebol here, and their founding families.

A total of 18 criminal charges were levied against Park, including bribery, abuse of power, extortion and the leakage of confidential documents.

The disgraced leader became the third South Korean president to be indicted by prosecutors.

Park was removed from office on March 10 as the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously to impeach her over a corruption scandal. She was taken into custody three weeks later.

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

Choi, who is now in custody, has been branded by prosecutors as a criminal accomplice of the impeached leader.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin was separately indicted without detention on bribery charges.

The country's fifth-biggest family-controlled conglomerate is suspected of offering millions of dollars in bribes to one of two non-profit foundations controlled by Choi who is at the center of the influence-peddling scandal.

The contribution, which was made by Lotte in May last year, was returned back to Lotte, right before prosecutors' raid in June into the Lotte headquarters and offices for Shin's charges of embezzlement and dereliction of duty.

In March last year, Chairman Shin met face-to-face with Park and his conglomerate regained its lost license to run duty-free shops in downtown Seoul. The contribution is suspected of being made in return for business favors.

An additional contribution of SK Group was also demanded by the Choi-controlled foundations, but the country's third-biggest family-run conglomerate refused to do so, helping Chairman Chey Tae-won escape indictment.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong has already been detained for offering tens of millions of dollars in bribes to the non-profit foundations controlled by Choi and a German company owned by Choi.

Park was seen as being embroiled in the Samsung bribery. In return, the Samsung heir was charged with receiving illicit assistance to inherit the management control of the country's biggest conglomerate from his ailing father Chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been hospitalized for almost three years.

The former president was also accused of leaking confidential government documents to Choi who allegedly intervened in state affairs though she was a civilian without any government post.

Prosecutors had questioned Park five times over the allegations since she was arrested on March 31, but she reportedly had denied all charges levied against her.