Prosecutors question Samsung executive over South Korean presidential scandal

Seoul, Nov 4 (IANS) Prosecutors questioned an executive director of South Korean conglomerate Samsung Group over allegations that a close friend of President Park Geun-hye pressured local companies to donate billions of won to two non-profit foundations.

Prosecutors said the executive appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to bear witness to suspicions that Choi Soon-sil collaborated with former presidential secretary An Chong-bum to push the companies.

There have been allegations that the money at the foundations, Mir and K-Sports, was then unlawfully funneled to Choi, who is at the centre of a political scandal, Yonhap news agency reported.

Samsung is the third conglomerate to be investigated over the suspicions after Lotte and SK, among 53 companies from 19 business groups that took part in the donation worth some 80 billion won ($70 million) in total.

The amount donated by Samsung’s affiliates totaled about 20 billion won.

Prosecutors are also looking into allegations that the conglomerate directly gave some 2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to a German company owned by Choi, under the name of a consulting arrangement.

Prosecutors have been accelerating their probe into the scandal, seeking a warrant to formally arrest the 60-year-old Choi and putting An under emergency detention to avoid the possible destruction of evidence.

The latest scandal has sent Park’s approval rating into free fall and prompted nationwide calls for her resignation.