Park Solicited Bribes from Samsung, Probe Finds

  • By Park Sang-ki

    March 07, 2017 09:36

    Independent counsel Park Young-soo on Monday brought five criminal charges against President Park Geun-hye including taking massive bribes from Samsung and blacklisting thousands of "hostile" cultural figures.

    The independent counsel brought the charges after a three-month investigation that ended last week but, according to him, was only able to scratch the surface of the president's crimes.

    "The probe accomplished just half due to the limited period and uncooperative attitude of those subject to the investigation," Park Young-soo told reporters.

    He added the investigation revealed "endemic corruption" and "abuse of power for personal gain" and apologized for failing to help unify a divided public by getting to the bottom of every suspicion.

    Independent counsel Park Young-soo speaks to reporters in his office in Seoul on Monday.

    President Park was at the forefront in stalling the investigation by refusing to be questioned and holing up in the shelter of her immunity at Cheong Wa Dae, where staff engaged in physical scuffles to prevent investigators searching the offices.

    The five charges the president will have to face once she is out of office add to another eight brought by prosecutors in their initial investigation late last year. They included extorting vast sums from conglomerates for the dodgy Mir and K-Sports foundations set up by her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil and letting Choi meddle freely in government business.

    The independent counsel has now upped the stakes by charging that the W43 billion paid by Samsung directly or indirectly to Choi constituted a bribe in return for easing the illegal ascent to the conglomerate's leadership of Samsung scion Lee Jae-yong (US$1=W1,156).

    President Park is also charged with abuse of power in colluding with her chief of staff, Kim Ki-choon, and other aides to cut artists critical of her administration off from government subsidies.

    She is also charged with abuse of power in pressuring KEB Hana Bank to promote the head of the bank's German subsidiary at the behest of Choi and for punishing Culture Ministry officials who opposed the crony's orders.

    The president denies all charges. "The independent counsel and his assistants were recommended by opposition parties, so the probe was prone to be unfair from the onset," her lawyer Yoo Yeong-ha claimed in a statement. "The investigation results are far from true and not worth commenting on."

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