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S. Korea's pension fund chief indicted in corruption probe

All News 12:04 January 16, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's state-run pension fund chief was indicted on Monday, a special prosecutor's team said, in a widening probe into an influence-peddling scandal that has led to President Park Geun-hye's impeachment.

Moon Hyung-pyo, chief of the National Pension Service (NPS), has been charged for abuse of power for allegedly pressuring the state fund to back a major merger deal between Samsung subsidiaries on behalf of the presidential office when he was health minister in 2015.

Moon, who served as the minister from December 2013 to August 2015, became the first suspect to be indicted by the special investigation team looking into the scandal. He was formally arrested last month.

There have been suspicions that the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae pressured the state fund -- which held an 11.6 percent stake in Samsung C&T Corp. and a 5 percent stake in Cheil Industries Inc. -- to support the conglomerate in return for favors Samsung gave to Choi Soon-sil, the president's close friend.

Lee Kyu-chul, the team's spokesman, earlier said Moon, who had denied exerting influence in the pension fund's decision at a parliamentary hearing, reversed his statement during the interrogation. He was also charged with perjury.

Investigators are now looking into whether President Park was directly involved in the process, which they think could constitute bribery.

The investigation team is expected to announce their decision on whether to seek a warrant to arrest Samsung's heir apparent Lee Jae-yong over the allegations later in the day. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., was questioned by the team as a bribery suspect on Thursday.

In this file photo taken on Dec. 31, 2016, ex-Health Minister Moon Hyung-pyo enters the special investigation team's office in southern Seoul to undergo questioning. He is accused of exerting pressure on the state pension fund to back a mega merger deal between two of top conglomerate Samsung Group's units when he was the minister in 2015. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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