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Parliamentary committee on influence-peddling scandal to hold final hearing

All News 08:33 January 09, 2017

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's parliamentary committee on the influence-peddling scandal of President Park Geun-hye and her confidante is set to hold its last hearing Monday,

The committee has been holding a series of sessions to find details behind the allegation that Park's friend Choi Soon-sil exerted influence on state affairs for personal benefits. Park was impeached in December by the parliament over the scandal.

The panel summoned 20 figures involved in the case, but some key witnesses, including Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun, former Senior Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Woo Byung-woo and former Ewha Womans University President Choi Kyung-hee, said they wouldn't participate.

A professor from Ehwa Womans University, a former head of the K-Sports Foundation and Park Sang-jin, a high-ranking executive from Samsung Electronics Co., are expected to appear before the National Assembly.

The university faces allegations that it gave admissions and academic favors to Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra.

The K-Sports Foundation and Mir were virtually controlled by Choi and collected large-sum donations from local conglomerates under the name of public projects. Investigators suspect Choi attempted to take control of the foundations' assets.

South Korea's top conglomerate Samsung Group allegedly signed a 22 billion-won (US$18.3 million) contract with a Germany-based company owned by Choi and financially supported her daughter Chung's purchase of equestrian horses, training and other costs.

Previous hearings questioned business tycoons, presidential staffers and other figures linked to the scandal but mostly ended fruitless amid the absence of key figures and witnesses' reluctance to deliver critical testimonies.

The parliamentary inquiry panel, which kicked off Nov. 17, will officially terminate its activities Sunday.


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