The more I read about the Choi Soon-sil scandal the more I realize that she can arguably be considered a well connected lobbyist taking money from corporations to influence presidential policy. In the United States lobbying is a well respected profession where in South Korea it can be considered bribery:
Samsung Electronics, the country’s largest listed company, picked up the tab for a sojourn by Choi Soon-sil, the controversial friend of President Park Geun-hye, and her daughter to Germany last year, the JoongAng Ilbo learned Tuesday.
Choi, 60, is a prime suspect in the abuse of power scandal that led to the impeachment of Park earlier this month. The prosecution indicted Choi in November on charges of abuse of power, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud, making clear that the president is a co-conspirator in all of her alleged crimes. Park was impeached on Dec. 9 for alleged violations of the constitution and criminal laws.
Samsung has been accused of generously sponsoring the 20-year-old daughter of Choi, Chung Yoo-ra. Chung was a gold medalist in dressage in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games, and suspicions were raised that the tech giant financed some of Chung’s activities as an equestrian athlete, such as buying a horse, Vitana V, reportedly worth 1 billion won ($838,574). [Joong Ang Ilbo]
Here is what she may have been lobbying for to President Park in return for the money that Samsung was giving her sports foundation:
The independent counsel’s team is trying to find a link between Samsung’s generosity toward Choi and Chung and the National Pension Service’s approval of a controversial merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries last year. The $8 billion deal solidified heir apparent Lee Jae-yong’s grip on Samsung Electronics.
The prosecution investigated whether the Blue House strong-armed the state-run pension fund into backing the merger. It failed to prove the suspicion.
Determining the nature of the money Samsung gave to Choi and Chung — whether it was bribes for favors or not — is the top priority of investigators at the independent counsel, a source from the law enforcement authority told the JoongAng Ilbo.
You can read more at the link.