Friend of Park gets 20 years; Lotte chairman also sentenced

16 February, 2018, 04:17 | Author: Jeannette Greene
  • Lotte chief and ex-president's friend jailed in South Korea scandal

Choi Soon-sil (C), a confidante of former South Korean President Park Geun-Hye, arrives at Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, Feb. 13, 2018.

Special Counsel Park Young-soo and state prosecutors demanded 25 years in prison for Choi, with a fine of 118.2 billion won and forfeiture of 7.7 billion won. The court also acknowledged as bribes the money she coerced businesses into paying to two non-profit organizations she controlled. Prosecutors had sought a four-year jail term.

"Choi's actions shook the order of society, causing great confusion which led to an unprecedented impeachment of a president", the judge said. "The president, who abandoned her constitutional duty and shared power and prestige bestowed by the people with an individual who holds no public office, and Choi, who went after her private gains, are responsible".

The massive scandal involving Choi and Park triggered weeks of street protests calling for Park to step down. Judge Kim is also presiding over Park's trial. Her daughter's equestrian training overseas was scrutinized and questions were raised about whether Samsung's purchase of expensive horses for her daughter constituted bribery. The court said Choi received a total of 7.29 billion won from Samsung in sponsorship.

The appeals court ruling that allowed Lee, Samsung's vice chairman, to be freed last week after almost a year in jail said Lee was unable to reject Park's request to financially support Choi and was coerced into making the payments.

Lee was accused of giving some of the bribes that Choi was charged with receiving.


The court said Choi is guilty of receiving or demanding bribes from Lotte Group and SK Group through K-Sports Foundation. After that, Lotte grappled with corruption investigations and intensifying regulatory scrutiny, which took a toll, with Lotte canceling a potential $4.5 billion initial public offering of a unit and withdrawing a bid for chemical-maker Axiall Corp.in 2016.

Choi Soon-sil leaves the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul on Tuesday. The court also made clear that the Park Blue House created the foundations.

"It appears the conglomerates had little to benefit from Choi's foundations", it said.

The sentencing sends another shockwave through the local business community, which was relieved to see Samsung heir Lee Jae Yong released from prison last week on a suspended sentence with some of his convictions overturned.

The court, however, said there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Samsung was pursuing a process of management control succession.

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