November 22, 2016 10:10
The heads of the country's biggest conglomerates will appear before a National Assembly committee probing the crony scandal that has engulfed President Park Geun-hye.
The three major political parties on Monday agreed that the tycoons must explain what they discussed with the president in private meetings last year that resulted in massive donations to two dodgy nonprofits Park's friend Choi Soon-sil set up.
The summons will cover the country's biggest business leaders -- de facto Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong, LG chairman Koo Bon-moo, Hyundai Motor chairman Chung Mong-koo, SK Group chief Chey Tae-won, CJ chairman Sohn Kyung-shik, Hanwha chief Kim Seung-youn and Hanjin chairman Cho Yang-ho.
Lotte chairman Shin Dong-bin and Federation of Korean Industries chairman Huh Chang-soo will testify about separate meetings with Park in March that led to Lotte giving billions to one of the foundations.
The tycoons will testify on Dec. 5 and Choi and Cheong Wa Dae and government officials involved in the influence-peddling scandal the following day.
Big business leaders were also hauled before the National Assembly in 1995 over a slush fund amassed by former President Roh Tae-woo and in 2003 over corporate political donations to what was then the former Grand National Party, now renamed the Saenuri Party.
But those two hearings took place behind closed doors whereas the upcoming hearings will be public.
The latest scandal has once again thrown the spotlight on the close but uneasy ties between government and the conglomerates that dominate Korean business.
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