President Park named as bribery suspect

South Korea’s impeached President Park Geun-hye was named a bribery suspect on Tuesday as special prosecutors wrap up their four-month probe into an influence-peddling scandal centered on her.

The probe team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, claimed the president colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to receive bribes from the country’s largest conglomerate Samsung Group in return for business favors, its spokesman Lee Kyu-chul told a regular press briefing.

President Park, now awaiting the Constitutional Court’s decision on her impeachment, will not immediately face charges as an incumbent president is immune from prosecution.

Prosecutors will indict Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung, later in the day on charges of giving or promising some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to the president’s jailed friend Choi in return for the government’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.

The business merger was seen as critical to the smooth management succession of the group from ailing Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee to his only son Jae-yong.

The investigation team was given 70 days with another 20 days for preparations to look into the allegations that President Park let her friend Choi meddle in state affairs and amass profits using her ties to the president..yonhapnews.

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