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South Korean Prosecutors to Question SK Group Leader


SK Group chairman Chey Tae-Won (from left) Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-Bin take an oath during a parliamentary probe into a scandal engulfing President Park Geun-hye at the National Assembly in in Seoul, Dec. 6, 2016. South Korea's most powerful business leaders from Samsung, Hyundai Motor and six other companies face grilling as lawmakers probe their links to a corruption scandal involving South Korea's president and her confidante.

South Korean prosecutors will question the chairman of the SK Group Saturday in connection with an influence-peddling scandal that brought down President Park Geun-hye, the company and the Yonhap news agency said.

Park, South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be removed from office, faces allegations that she colluded with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

Officials at the prosecutors’ office could not be reached for comment about the summoning of SK Chairman Chey Tae-won.

A spokesman for the SK Group however confirmed that Chey would be questioned but declined to comment further.

Reform of chaebol

Park is to appear for questioning Tuesday. She and Choi have denied wrongdoing.

An election to pick a new president will be May 9, and reform of South Korea’s powerful family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol, is a major campaign issue.

The SK Group is South Korea’s third-largest chaebol, with units in chemicals, telecoms and semiconductors.

Chey is likely to be asked about discussions between the group and the presidential Blue House in 2015, around the time he was released from prison when a four-year term for embezzlement was commuted.

Three SK executives were questioned Thursday as part of the same investigation.

Others under investigation

At least two other conglomerates are being investigated, including the Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest chaebol. Its leader, Jay Y. Lee, is in detention on trial on bribery, embezzlement and other charges. Lee denies all charges and Samsung denies wrongdoing.

A spokesman for the Lotte Group said this week it was cooperating with the prosecutors’ investigation.

Park, who was impeached by parliament in December and dismissed from office by the Constitutional Court March 10, is accused of bribery, extortion and abuse of power in the scandal that has rocked South Korea since October.

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