South Korea's special prosecutor says the president and a close friend are suspected of taking bribes from Samsung.
Special prosecutor Park Young-soo said in a statement Monday the bribes President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sill extracted from Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong are a symbol of a "chronic cycle of corruption in our society" and were aimed at insuring that Lee remained at Samsung's helm.
The prosecutor said the focus of the lengthy investigation was "the influence-peddling scandal, caused by using the government authority for personal interest and the collusion of government and business."
The probe by the prosecutor found the National Pension Service voted in favor of a merger of two Samsung affiliates, despite a probable loss of more than $100 million.Lee is reported to have made a $36 million payment to Choi in return for the president's help in securing the approval of the merger.The payment allegedly took the form of donations to support the equestrian training of Chung Yoo-ra, Choi's daughter, and to two dubious non-profit foundations controlled by Choi.
Park, Choi and Lee have denied all charges against them.
Samsung said in a statement that it does not agree with the special prosecutor's findings."Samsung has not paid bribes nor made improper requests seeking favors," the statement said."Future court proceedings will reveal the truth."
Park has been suspended from office, but continues to live in the presidential Blue House.The Constitutional Court is reviewing the impeachment decision.