South Korea prosecutor: President colluded to take Samsung bribes

South Korea prosecutor: President colluded to take Samsung bribes

South Korea prosecutor: President colluded to take Samsung bribes

The announcement comes days before the South Korean Constitutional court will announce if it will uphold a motion put forth by parliament to impeach the embattled president.

The court is widely expected to deliver its ruling by Monday before the retirement of its acting chief, Lee Jung-mi.

South Korean law does not allow a sitting president to be indicted. No formal charges can be brought against her until she is either removed from office or her term ends as scheduled in late February 2018.

Her removal from office would subject her to a fresh investigation by state prosecutors, who have been handed the record from the special prosecutor's office that has named her as a suspect on charges laid to Choi and Samsung chief Lee. The presidential office also thwarted the prosecutors' attempt to search Park's office, citing the possible leakage of military secrets.

According to the prosecutor's office, Park directed the government-controlled National Pension Service, a major shareholder of the two Samsung affiliates, to vote for the merger despite the opposition of minority shareholders.

President Park was impeached by parliament on December 9 for allegedly letting her close friend Choi Soon-sil meddle in state policymaking and colluding with her to extort money from local conglomerates. The president's decades-long friend pressured the foreign ministry to nominate a Choi-favored figure as an ambassador to Myanmar to gain illegal profits from official development assistance (ODA) projects.

Lee, 48, pledged 43 billion won ($37.19 million) in return for support from Park and Choi for a variety of steps including a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015 and the 2016 domestic listing of a loss-making drug maker Samsung Biologics Cfo Ltd, the special prosecutor said.

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The lawyers made the call in a statement sent to the court a day after Independent Counsel Park Young-soo announced the results of his team's 70-day probe into the president's alleged corruption.

"The law on the independent counsel was recommended exclusively by the Democratic Party and the People's Party, giving special favors to certain factions", her lawyer Lee Kyung-jae said.

The Samsung group also denied the charge, saying, "Future court proceedings will reveal the truth".

Choi and Park are accused of conspiring to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations established to support the president's policy initiatives.

SEOUL-South Korean prosecutors provided their most detailed account yet of bribery charges against Samsung's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong, following a monthslong investigation into a corruption scandal that has shaken the country's corporate and political elite.

If Lee is found guilty of hiding more than $5 million overseas, he could face at least 10 years in jail, special prosecutors have said.