Bracing for the imminent summons of former President Park Geun-hye, state prosecutors on Friday made last-minute adjustments to their questions, focusing on Park’s alleged bribery charges involving the nation’s top business groups.
Though the final decision has yet to be made, the prosecution is considering requesting the court for an arrest warrant for Park who no longer has presidential immunity to criminal prosecution and physical detention.
The special investigation team affiliated with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office drafted hundreds of key questions on Park’s extensive set of corruption allegations, according to sources at the investigative agency on Friday.
Most of the questions were based on the three private talks between Park and Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, as was recorded in the business notebooks and testimonies of arrested former presidential aides.
The team is also working on a variety of investigation scenarios, each depending on the former state chief’s answers and remarks.
Investigators on Wednesday demanded that Park show up at the prosecutors‘ offce in Seocho-dong, Seoul at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, marking the fourth questioning of a former president in the nation’s history.
Park, who was ousted upon the Constitutional Court’s decision on Mach 10, is currently facing 13 criminal charges in total, most of them related to her former civilian confidante Choi Soon-sil.
But she has so far denied all of the allegations raised against her and claimed that “the truth will eventually come to light,” apparently denying the justice of the ongoing prosecutorial investigation and her impeachment ruling.
Anticipating her repeated denial, prosecutors also closed in on their questioning of An Chong-bum, former senior presidential secretary for policy coordination, as well as conglomerates officials allegedly related to Park’s wrongdoings.
Three former and incumbent senior executives of SK Group, the nation’s third-largest conglomerate, were sent back home early on Friday morning after some 18 hours of intense questioning.
The group allegedly donated 11.1 billion ($9.8 million) to two nonprofit foundations controlled by Park’s confidante Choi in 2015-2016, an amount which investigators saw as kickbacks for a presidential pardon for SK Chairman Chey Tae-won who was serving a jail term for embezzlement.
The group is also suspected of having sought illegitimate benefits such as the authorization of its duty free shop business, exemption of tax investigation on some of its affiliates, and easier acquisition of a mobile carrier unit.
The summoning of SK officials indicated the prosecutors’ move to expand their probe into conglomerates other than Samsung. The independent counsel team, which had led the investigation from December last year up to late last month had focused on Samsung and its heir-apparent Lee.
“The general consensus within the team is that an arrest warrant request is inevitable, considering the seriousness of the charges, Park’s constant denial, and the fact that all of her key accomplices are under arrest,” said a prosecutorial official.
Prosecutor General Kim Soo-nam also urged the special team to “remain unshaken in its belief,” alluding to an uncompromising investigation upon the former president.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org