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Choi's niece acknowledges forcing donations from Samsung

All News 11:58 January 17, 2017

SEOUL, Jan. 17 (Yonhap) -- A niece of a woman who is at the center of a South Korean presidential scandal admitted Tuesday they colluded to coerce Samsung Group to make donations to a sports foundation under their control.

Chang Si-ho and her aunt Choi Soon-sil are accused of extorting more than 1.6 billion won (US$1.35 million) in donations from the nation's largest business group to the Korea Winter Sports Elite Center, which was established in June 2015.

She also admitted to embezzling funds from the center.

Chang's admission comes a day after special prosecutors investigating the influence-peddling scandal which led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye sought an arrest warrant for Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery.

According to the prosecutors, Lee was involved in Samsung's decision to give up to 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) to various organizations linked to Choi in return for the Park administration's backing of a controversial merger in 2015.

Chang was summoned to testify at the Seoul Central District Court along with Choi and former Vice Culture and Sports Minister Kim Chong.

Kim, who is accused of colluding with Choi in the case, denied his involvement. His lawyer argued the donations were a decision made by the presidential office and Samsung's management.

Chang Si-ho (front, L), Kim Chong (front, C) and Choi Soon-sil (front, R) stand trial at the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

hague@yna.co.kr
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