Published:  12:00 AM, 10 January 2017

Choi charged with bribery

South Korean special prosecutors team have filed fresh charges including bribery against a close friend of impeached President Park Geun-hye, the central figure in a political scandal that has engulfed the country, the team said yesterday. Choi Soon-sil, in jail since late October and on trial since last month, already faces charges of abuse of power and attempted fraud. On Monday, Lee Kyu-chul, spokesman for the special prosecution team, said it had filed the additional charges.

He declined to provide further details during a regular briefing. Choi's lawyers were not immediately available for comment.Choi, 60, who has known Park for four decades, is accused of colluding with Park to pressure big businesses, including Samsung Group, to contribute to non-profit foundations backing the president's initiatives. Choi has denied any wrongdoing. Also on Mon-day, two senior executives of Samsung Group [SAGR.UL] were questioned as part of the corruption probe.

South Korean prosecutors are trying to ascertain whether Samsung, the country's biggest conglomerate, sought favors from Choi and Park in return for funding some of their initiatives. No Samsung officials have been accused of wrongdoing. As part of their investigation, prosecutors are also looking into Samsung's sponsorship of the equestrian riding career of Choi's daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, 20, who was arrested in Denmark after being sought by South Korean authorities. - Reuters, Seoul

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