South Korean prosecutors are recommending a thirty-year jail term and a 118.5 billion won ($127.1 million) fine for former President Park Geun-hye for her alleged involvement in the corruption and influence-peddling scandal that resulted in her impeachment and ouster from the presidency. The prosecutorial recommendation is the latest development in the lengthy corruption scandal involving powerful South Korean business conglomerates, or “chaebol.”
Parks faces bribery, abuse of power, and coercion charges related to her alleged taking of tens of billions of won in bribes from South Korean companies Samsung and Lotte. Prosecutors allege the bribes were funneled through Park’s friend and confidant, Choi Soon-sil and two charitable foundations Choi controlled, and were offered in part in hopes of garnering government support for Samsung’s proposed father-to-son transfer of ownership. Samsung is South Korea’s largest chaebol: its revenues account for 17% of South Korea’s GDP, and Samsung electronics accounts for 20% of all South Korean exports.
The prosecutor’s recommendation comes two weeks after the Seoul Central District Court sentenced Choi to twenty-years in jail for her central role in the scandal. Choi was found guilty of abuse of power, bribery, and interfering in government business. In earlier proceedings, Choi was convicted of obstruction of duty for using her ties to President Park to get her daughter admitted to Ewha Womans University.
Park’s trial began in May 2017. Observers expect a verdict in early April of this year.
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