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Prosecutors question key lobbyist in savings bank probe

A key lobbyist for a troubled savings bank has been questioned about his role in a massive influence-peddling scandal involving the bank as he voluntarily returned home Sunday after fleeing to Canada, prosecutors said Monday.

Park Tae-gyu, 71, is suspected of helping the corruption-ridden Busan Savings Bank lobby senior officials and politicians so that the lender could avoid a suspension of operations, officials at the Supreme Prosecutors' Office said.

The high-profile lobbyist is also accused of using his personal network to help the bank raise 100 billion won (US$92.5 million) in funds from a scholarship foundation and a local college by issuing new shares. The bank's actions ultimately caused losses for the two investors.

Park fled to Canada early this year after prosecutors began looking into allegations that the bank's executives and large shareholders inflicted loss worth 7 trillion won (US$6.47 billion) to the bank through financial wrongdoing, including offering illegal loans, accounting fraud and embezzlement.

The prosecution had sought forced repatriation of the fugitive while also trying to persuade him to voluntarily return home through his acquaintances and lawyer in South Korea. (Yonhap News)

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