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South Korea prosecutors raid Seoul offices of two firms over scandal

23 November 2016 15:08

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Prosecutors in South Korea have raided the offices of the country’s largest business group, Samsung, and the national pension fund as part of an ongoing probe concerning a shadowy confidante of the president.

Officials at Samsung Group and the National Pension Service (NPS) confirmed on Wednesday that investigators had raided their Seoul offices.

The Investment Management Office of the NPS was targeted by prosecutors, according to an anonymous source at the company. Samsung spokeswoman Lim Bomi declined to say which Samsung department had been raided.

Prosecutors are investigating the companies to determine the nature of their alleged links to Choi Soon-sil, President Park Geun-hye’s long-time friend, and two of Park’s former top aides, Jong-beom and Jung Ho-sung.


South Koreans protest against President Park Geun-hye in Seoul, November 12, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Prosecutors say the president and the trio were accomplices in a case of influence-peddling and illegal fund-raising to the tune of tens of millions of dollars from big firms, including Samsung and NPS.

Lee Young-ryeol, who is the leading prosecutor in the probe, has attributed a major “collusive” role to President Park. Prosecutors are constitutionally barred from officially charging the incumbent, however.

Park has apologized to the nation over the scandal; but, she has been defiant against calls to resign. She also recently backed down on an offer to make herself available for questioning by prosecutors.

Meanwhile, the country’s justice minister and senior presidential secretary for civil affairs have offered to resign, but President Park has not accepted their resignation. It was not immediately clear whether they offered to resign because they had been involved in the scandal or were unwilling to continue to work in her government because of it.

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