South Korea: Prosecutors yet to decide whether to arrest Samsung execs
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South Korea: Prosecutors yet to decide whether to arrest Samsung execs

SOUTH KOREA’S special prosecution office said on Tuesday it was undecided on whether to seek arrest warrants for two Samsung Group executives as part of a widening investigation into the political scandal threatening President Park Geun-hye.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported earlier on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources, that the prosecution would seek to arrest two Samsung executives.

However, the prosecutors’ office later told Reuters that the two men, Samsung Group Vice Chairman Choi Gee-sung and President Chang Choong-ki, both of whom were summoned for questioning on Monday, were considered witnesses.

The two were questioned by investigators looking into whether the country’s top conglomerate paid bribes to get the country’s national pension fund to approve a controversial merger between two Samsung affiliates.

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A Samsung Group spokesman declined to comment.

President Park could become the nation’s first democratically elected leader to leave office early after parliament voted to impeach her in December over the corruption scandal, a decision that must be approved or overturned by the Constitutional Court.

On Monday, a special prosecutors team filed fresh charges including bribery against a close friend of Park, the central figure in the political scandal.

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.

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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.

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.

Chung has been accused of criminal interference related to her academic record and other unspecified charges.

Park has denied any wrongdoing but admitted carelessness in her dealings with Choi, who is accused of wielding inappropriate influence over state affairs. – Reuters