Two former aides to S Korea’s president quizzed over scandal
SOUTH Korean prosecutors yesterday questioned two former key presidential aides over allegations they helped a shadowy confidant of President Park Geun-Hye meddle in state affairs and secretly visit her office.
Ms Park has been engulfed by a scandal that centres on Choi Soon-Sil, who is accused of using her personal ties with the president to coerce local firms to donate millions of dollars to non-profit foundations Ms Choi then used for personal gain.
Ms Choi, 60, is also accused of interfering in state affairs to the extent of nominating officials and editing Ms Park’s speeches.
Ahn Bong-Geun and Lee Jae-Man, who served as key advisors until last month, are accused of helping Ms Choi visit the presidential office.
They also reported state affairs or leaked confidential documents to her.
TV news footage showed the pair separately entering the Seoul prosecutors’ office yesterday morning as they were mobbed by reporters.
The two, who served as Ms Park’s aides for decades, were described by local media as “doorknobs” to the president who wielded enormous power over policymaking.
Two other presidential aides have been arrested in the snowballing influence-peddling scandal.
Ms Choi, whose father was an elusive religious figure and a longtime mentor to Ms Park until his death in 1994, was arrested earlier this month for abuse of power and fraud.
The scandal has sparked nationwide fury with hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets to call for Ms Park’s resignation and mocking her as Ms Choi’s “puppet”.
A mass rally held in Seoul on November 12 drew one million people, according to organisers, making it the largest public protest in the South for nearly three decades.
Ms Park also faces allegations that she helped Ms Choi extract money from local companies including Samsung and Hyundai.
Prosecutors are seeking to formally question her this week. –