A South Korean court on Tuesday sentenced Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of ousted President Park Geun-hye, to 20 years in prison for multiple charges including abuse of power and extortion.
The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Choi, who is at the centre of the influence-peddling scandal that led to the impeachment of former President Park, to a 20-year imprisonment and fined Choi 18 billion won (16.6 million U.S. dollars).
The decades-long confidante of the impeached president was taken into custody in November 2016, and indicted in the same month for 18 counts of corruption.
The court ruled that Choi abused the presidential power and forced large conglomerates to donate tens of millions of U.S. dollars to two nonprofit foundations controlled by her.
Choi received 7.29 billion won (6.7 million U.S. dollars) in bribes from Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, an heir apparent to Samsung Group, the country’s biggest family-controlled conglomerate.
Special prosecutor Park Young-soo and state prosecutors claimed Choi received a combined 43.3 billion won (39.9 million U.S. dollars) from the Samsung heir who was released from prison in the appeals’ court ruling last week.
An Chong-bum, former senior secretary for Park, was sentenced to six years in jail as he was identified as an accomplice to Choi and Park.
An was fined 100 million won (92,225 U.S. dollars) for taking bribes.
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin got a jail term of two and a half years for bribery. Shin was immediately put under custody in the courtroom.
The court ruled that Lotte provided 7 billion won (6.5 million U.S. dollars) in bribes to one of the Choi-controlled foundations in return for business favours. (Xinhua/NAN)