Probe ad­vances

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By AGENCE FRANCEPRESSE in Seoul

South Korea’s pres­i­dent hires a lawyer as pros­e­cu­tors raid Samsung unit.

South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye has hired a lawyer ahead of ques­tion­ing by pros­e­cu­tors over a po­lit­i­cal scan­dal that has en­gulfed her ad­min­is­tra­tion, her spokesman said on Tues­day.

Park, who would be the first sit­ting pres­i­dent to be in­ter­ro­gated in a crim­i­nal case, has seen her ap­proval rat­ings plunge, with hun­dreds of thou­sands of pro­test­ers tak­ing to Seoul’s streets on Satur­day de­mand­ing she re­sign.

The scan­dal cen­ters on Park’s shad­owy con­fi­dant Choi Soon-sil, who is ac­cused of us­ing her ties with the pres­i­dent to co­erce ma­jor com­pa­nies to do­nate mil­lions of dol­lars to non­profit foun­da­tions that Choi then used for per­sonal gain.

Pros­e­cu­tors on Sun­day an­nounced a plan to for­mally quiz Park this week over al­le­ga­tions she helped Choi ex­tract money from the firms and al­lowed pres­i­den­tial aides to leak doc­u­ments to Choi.

Park’s newly re­tained lawyer, YooYoung-ha, will dis­cuss with Seoul pros­e­cu­tors ex­actly when, where and how Park would be ques­tioned, Park’s spokesman told re­porters.

Choi, 60, is also ac­cused of in­ter­fer­ing in state af­fairs to the ex­tent of nom­i­nat­ing of­fi­cials and edit­ing Park’s speeches even though she has no of­fi­cial ti­tle.

The probe widened again on Tues­day, when pros­e­cu­tors raided the of­fice of Samsung’s ad­ver­tis­ing unit, CheilWorld­wide, as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Choi’s rel­a­tives, the Yon­hap news agency said.

Samsung made the largest do­na­tion of some $17.5 mil­lion to Choi’s foun­da­tions and is ac­cused of sep­a­rately of­fer­ing $3.1 mil­lion to Choi to bankroll her daugh­ter’s eques­trian train­ing in­Ger­many.

Pros­e­cu­tors found ev­i­dence that Cheil had made questionable do­na­tions to a non­profit sports foun­da­tion con­trolled by Choi’s niece, Jang Si-ho, Yon­hap said.

“The raid is in con­nec­tion with Cheil’s do­na­tion to (Jang’s) foun­da­tion,” Yon­hap quoted a prose­cu­tor as say­ing.

Jang, de­scribed by lo­cal me­dia as a key Choi aide, is ac­cused of us­ing the foun­da­tio­nanda sports­man­age­ment firm con­trolled by her to fun­nel state funds and to ex­tract do­na­tions from lo­cal firms.

Shin Dong-bin, chair­man of Lotte Group, was also sum­moned to the pros­e­cu­tors’ of­fice on Tues­day to an­swer ques­tions. The com­pany do­nated $3.9 mil­lion to the two foun­da­tions.

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