South Korean President Accused of Conspiring to Take Bribes From Samsung

South Korean President Park Geun Hye conspired to take bribes from technology giant Samsung and engaged in a pattern of influence-peddling and abuse of powers, a special prosecutor said Monday.

Independent counsel Park Young Soo announced the results of a 70-day probe into a scandal that already has led to the indictment of 30 people, including Samsung heir Lee Jae Yong and President Park’s longtime confidant Choi Soon Sil.

The prosecutor confirmed the president is suspected of colluding with Choi to take bribes from Samsung’s Lee in return for business favors. The prosecutor also linked Park to illegal blacklisting by her aides of almost 10,000 liberal-leaning writers, artists and other cultural figures deemed critical of her administration.

President Park, who was impeached in December, issued a statement through her lawyer Yoo Yeong Ha rejecting the allegations and denouncing the special prosecutor as “politically biased,” South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported. Park has repeatedly blamed political foes for her troubles, saying she was framed.

Samsung issued a statement denying it paid bribes or sought government favors, adding that “future court proceedings will reveal the truth,” Reuters reported. Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

Lee and four other senior Samsung executives were indicted last week on charges including embezzlement and bribery. Lee is accused of paying more than $35 million in bribes to entities run by Choi in return for government backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015. Lee, 48, faces trial Thursday on charges that could bring a 20-year prison sentence.

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SOURCE: USA Today, John Bacon