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Prosecutors question Park's former aides, confidante over corruption scandal

All Headlines 16:51 November 06, 2016

SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- State prosecutors on Sunday questioned two former aides to President Park Geun-hye and her longtime confidante as part of a high-profile probe into a sprawling corruption scandal that has rocked the country.

The prosecution questioned An Chong-bum, former senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, and Jeong Ho-seong, former secretary for private presidential affairs, over alleged misconduct linked to the political scandal involving Park's close friend Choi Soon-sil.

Earlier in the day, investigators questioned Choi for the third consecutive day since her formal arrest on Thursday.

The 60-year-old woman, who has never held a government post nor had security clearance, is suspected of abusing her decades-long ties to the president to meddle in various state affairs and amass profits.

An is facing accusations that he collaborated with Choi to pressure local companies to donate nearly 80 billion won (US$70 million) for the establishment of two nonprofit organizations. There have been allegations that part of the money was illegally funneled to Choi.

He is also accused of attempting to force a local company to hand over to a third party shares of another firm that it took over. An associate of Choi is suspected of taking part in the process.

Jeong, who has served as an aide to Park for years, is accused of handing over some presidential documents to Choi, possibly in breach of a law governing the handling of presidential records.

A local court issued formal arrest warrants for both An and Jeong Sunday morning.

The two resigned a week ago as part of Park's personnel reshuffle aimed at assuaging growing public anger over an escalating influence-peddling scandal involving her close confidante Choi Soon-sil.

The burgeoning corruption scandal has sent Park's approval ratings into a freefall and state governance into disarray, and prompted nationwide calls for her resignation.

Despite Park's second apology for the scandal, tens of thousands of citizens took to the streets in downtown Seoul on Saturday to call on Park to step aside.

This combined photo show President Park Geun-hye's close confidante Choi Soon-sil (L); An Chong-bum (C), former senior presidential secretary for policy coordination; and Jeong Ho-seong, former secretary for private presidential affairs, walking towards rooms at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Nov. 6, 2016, for questioning over a series of alleged misconduct. (Yonhap)

sshluck@yna.co.kr
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