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(LEAD) Lotte chairman questioned over corruption scandal

All Headlines 09:44 April 07, 2017

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead, paras 2-3 with Shin's appearance; CHANGES photo; Minor edits)

SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- The chief of South Korea's retail giant Lotte was grilled by prosecutors Friday as they widen the investigation into local conglomerates in relation to a corruption scandal that removed former President Park Geun-hye from office.

Shin Dong-bin appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office at around 9:15 a.m. to bear witness to the influence-peddling scandal.

"I will fully cooperate with the interrogation today," Shin told reporters as he arrived at the office, declining to comment further.

Prosecutors are trying to determine if donations Lotte gave to two dubious foundations allegedly controlled by Park's friend Choi Soon-sil were bribes in relation to the company's bid for a duty-free business.

The retail giant was selected by the Korea Customs Service to operate the lucrative shop in Seoul, together with Hyundai and Shinsegae, in December.

Prosecutors here have been expanding their probe into local business groups after indicting Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group's de facto leader, on charges of giving kickbacks to Choi in return for business favors.

Park was named an accomplice in the bribery allegations, as well as in colluding with Choi in forcing dozens of conglomerates to donate 77.4 billion won (US$70 million) to the foundations. Park, Lee and Choi are all in custody, though they are all flatly denying the charges leveled against them.

The Seoul Central District Court was set to begin the trial on Lee's bribery allegations on the same day.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin (C) arrives at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in the capital on April 7, 2017, to undergo questioning over an influence-peddling scandal that removed former President Park Geun-hye from office. (Yonhap)


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