Danish Court Delays Sending Chung Yoo-ra Back to South Korea

It looks like Chung Yoo-ra the 21-year old daughter of the woman at the heart of the ROK presidential scandal will remain in Denmark a bit longer:

This file photo, taken from a clip on YouTube on Jan. 3, 2017, shows Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Choi Soon-sil at the center of a corruption scandal that has led to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment, holding an interview with Korean reporters at a court in the northern Danish city of Aalborg. (Yonhap)

The Danish prosecution on Tuesday deferred a decision over whether to repatriate the daughter of South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s close confidante at the center of a high-profile corruption scandal.

South Korea’s special probe team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, has requested Denmark to send Chung Yoo-ra, the 21-year-old daughter of Choi Soon-sil, to Seoul so she could be questioned on a series of alleged wrongdoings related to the president.

Chung, who has been held in custody in the European country since last month, has so far refused to voluntarily return home to face a probe.

The Danish prosecution told the South Korean embassy in Copenhagen that it has yet to reach a final decision on the requested repatriation of Chung, and that it needs more time to pore over documents it has received from the independent counsel team.

The Danish prosecution has asked a court to hold deliberations on an extension of Chung’s detention on Wednesday morning. Chung’s detention is set to end at 9 a.m. on Wednesday.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but I think the continued delays to repatriate Chung is an indication that the evidence against her is pretty weak.

Samsung Heir Lee Jae-yong Arrested for Corruption Linked to ROK Presidential Scandal

Considering the mountain of lawyers that Lee Jae-yong is sure to have I hope the ROK prosecutors have some indisputable evidence if they have any hope of convicting him:

Lee Jae Yong

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., enters the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul on Feb. 16, 2017, to attend a hearing on the legitimacy of his arrest sought for the second time by special prosecutors for alleged bribery involving impeached President Park Geun-hye and related to the merger of two of Samsung’s affiliates. (Yonhap)

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group’s de facto leader, was formally arrested Friday on charges of bribery in connection with a high-profile corruption scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her friend.

With the Seoul Central District Court issuing the arrest warrant, Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., became the first leader of the country’s largest business group to be detained in a criminal probe.

The investigation team, led by Independent Counsel Park Young-soo, requested the writ for a second time on Tuesday — less than a month after its first request on Lee’s charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury was turned down.

In their second pursuit of the warrant, the prosecutors leveled more charges against the tycoon, including hiding criminal proceeds and violating the law on transferring assets abroad in the process of giving bribes to the president’s friend Choi Soon-sil.

“The rationale for and the necessity of (Lee’s) arrest is acknowledged considering the new charges and additional evidence collected,” the court said in a text message sent to reporters.

The court, however, rejected the request for a warrant to arrest Samsung Electronics President Park Sang-jin, saying it is difficult to recognize the need for his detention.

Following the court’s decision, Lee is to stay at a detention center in Uiwang, south of Seoul, where he had been waiting for the ruling.

Prosecutors have suspected that Lee gave or promised some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to Choi in exchange for the government’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates in 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

A Detailed History of the Park Geun-hye Presidential Scandal

The below article from The Diplomat is a really good article that details the complexities and key players of the current ROK presidential crisis.  Like I have always said if it wasn’t for the tablet PC that JTBC News acquired the impeachment likely never would have happened due to the all the backroom deals in place to keep things quiet:

As someone living in Korea and having watched history unfold these last few months, it has been impossible to shake the feeling the media did what the Prosecution Service was reluctant to do. Without media involvement, the engagement of bystanders, and the propinquity of various storylines coming together, it appears possible and even likely the Choi Soon-sil scandal would have been snuffed out like so many other allegations before it. It was only after Park had been impeached and a special prosecutor assigned that more proper investigations began, culminating in the parliamentary hearings and the shocking indictment of Samsung’s chief, Lee Jae-yong. The courts, unfortunately, have yet to demonstrate a change from the norm, flatly denying the special prosecutor’s request for a warrant to arrest Lee, citing “a lack of evidence” despite overwhelming media coverage and Lee’s own admissions in parliamentary hearings to the contrary.

Based on the evidence presented here and in those hearings, it becomes difficult to view the current presidential scandal as a single, isolated incident. Instead, the picture painted depicts a deeply embedded tradition of backdoor dealings on an epidemic scale affecting all levels of government, especially the very bureaus that should be overseeing justice. Beyond influence-peddling, the scandal extends to strong-arm tactics to suppress the truth by manipulating the press, questionable due process in the courts, and possible tampering with the Prosecution Service.

Had it not been for Choi Soon-sil’s tablet, Park may have never been impeached.  [The Diplomat]

I highly recommend reading the whole thing at the link.  By the way I don’t think I will ever buy another Nature Republic product ever again after reading about the shadiness of its CEO in the article.

President Park Says Scandal Composed of “Fiction and Lies”

President Park’s association with Choi Soon-sil has long been known and I think a lot of people outside her administration suspected Choi was up to no good.  However, I don’t think this scandal would have blown up the way it has if it wasn’t for the tablet computer found in Choi’s old office by JTBC News.  In my opinion that tablet computer that confirmed what a lot people already believed is really what caused this scandal, not some gigantic left wing conspiracy:

President Park Geun-hye called the massive corruption scandal involving her and her confidant Choi Soon-sil a “huge mountain heaped up with lies” in an interview Wednesday.

It was her first interview with the media since she was impeached over the influence-peddling scandal Dec. 9. To defend herself, the President opted for a podcast program, “Jeong Kyu-jae TV” operated by the chief editor of the Korea Economic Daily, a conservative website, instead of major newspapers or broadcasters.

In the one-hour interview, Park said she felt that the scandal had been plotted for a long time. “It seems the ongoing things are not accidental,” she said. But when asked whether she thought specific figures might have plotted it, she declined to comment.

She also denied all allegations and rumors surrounding her, such as she shared an economic interest with Choi, that she frequently used propofol, and that she had an affair with her former aide Chung Yoon-hoi, Choi’s ex-husband.

“The series of nonsense show how misunderstanding, fiction and lies are piled up,” she said. “Such huge lies show how weak the grounds for my impeachment were.”

Park said Choi was a longtime friend who helped her, but she came to know many new things about her as the scandal emerged, implying she did not know _ and was not involved in _ Choi’s alleged corruption.  [Korea Times via a reader tip]

You can read more at the link.

Choi Soon-sil’s Niece Admits to Bribery Allegations Involving Samsung

It appears South Korean prosecutors have been able to flip Choi Soon-sil’s niece and she is testifying against her.  With Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong saying he felt pressured him to give money to Choi’s foundation and her own niece confirming the allegation, it seems the prosecutors have a very strong case against her now:

Chang Si-ho (front, L), Kim Chong (front, C) and Choi Soon-sil (front, R) stand trial at the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 17, 2017. (Yonhap)

Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of a South Korean presidential impeachment scandal, clashed with a niece Tuesday over allegations they coerced Samsung Group into making donations to a sports foundation under their control.

Choi, her niece Chang Si-ho and former Vice Culture and Sports Minister Kim Chong were summoned to the Seoul Central District Court to testify on allegations they colluded to extort more than 1.6 billion won (US$1.35 million) in donations from the nation’s largest business group to the Korea Winter Sports Elite Center, which was established in June 2015.

Chang early on admitted that they forced the donations from Samsung and that she embezzled funds from the center. Her admission came a day after special prosecutors investigating the scandal sought an arrest warrant for Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery.

According to the prosecutors, Lee was involved in Samsung’s decision to give up to 43 billion won to various organizations linked to Choi in return for the Park Geun-hye administration’s backing of a merger between two companies belonging to the conglomerate in 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but what I haven’t seen strong evidence of yet is how President Park Geun-hye was involved in all of this?

Arrest Warrant Issued for Heir to Samsung for Perjury and Bribery

It will be interesting to see if the prosecutors have the evidence to prove their case because Samsung and the women behind the ROK Presidential scandal Choi Soon-sil as well as President Park Geun-hye are denying everything:

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., leaves the special prosecutor’s office in Seoul on Jan. 13, 2017, after 22 hours of questioning over allegations Samsung Group offered financial aid to President Park Geun-hye’s longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of a massive corruption scandal, in return for business favors. (Yonhap)

Special prosecutors on Monday requested an arrest warrant for Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group’s de facto leader, on charges of bribery, embezzlement and perjury in connection with an influence-peddling scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., is accused of giving or promising to give some 43 billion won (US$36.3 million) worth of bribes to Park’s jailed friend Choi Soon-sil in return for the state-run pension fund’s backing of a merger of two Samsung affiliates, the team’s spokesman Lee Kyu-chul told a regular press briefing.

Samsung signed a 22 billion won consulting contract in August 2015 with a Germany-based firm owned by the woman who is at the center of the scandal and allegedly sent the company billions of won, which was used to fund her daughter’s equestrian training, according to prosecutors. The money that was originally promised to be handed over was included in the amount deemed as bribes, Lee, the spokesman, said.

Some 20.4 billion won the group donated to two nonprofit foundations, allegedly linked to Choi, was also viewed as a kickback. It was the largest amount given by any business group to the organizations.

Prosecutors suspect Samsung supported Choi in return for the National Pension Service (NPS) approving the contested merger of two Samsung subsidiaries on July 17, 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Choi Soon-sil Attends 3rd Hearing

Park's confidante attends 3rd court hearing

Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of President Park Geun-hye who is indicted on charges of abuse of power and attempted fraud, is taken to the Seoul Central District Court on Jan. 13, 2017, to attend the third hearing of her trial on the massive influence-peddling scandal that has led to the president’s impeachment. (Yonhap)

Samsung Heir Says That President Park Pressured Him to Give Money to Friend’s Organizations

If President Park was pressuring Lee Jae-yong to have Samsung donate millions of dollars to Choi Soon-sil’s organizations in return for political favors this would justify the impeachment:

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong leaves the special counsel team’s office in southern Seoul on Jan. 13, 2017, after being questioned for 22 hours in connection with a corruption scandal. (Yonhap)

Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Group’s de facto leader, has claimed that President Park Geun-hye forced his company to provide billions of won to various organizations linked to her confidante at the center of a corruption scandal, an official said Friday.

Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., made the claim to a special probe team investigating the widening scandal involving Park and her friend Choi Soon-sil, the official close to the team said. His latest statement does not match what he said at a parliamentary hearing held last month. At the time, Lee said the president only talked about matters related to the conglomerate and its investment plans during a private meeting in 2015.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link, but Lee’s story differs from what he said last month that he was not pressured to give money to Choi.  However, according to this KBS report Lee said that he was pressured by Park to give money, but he did not request any political favors in return:

The decision on whether or not to request an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong for his links to the Choi Soon-sil scandal may come as early as Saturday.

The independent counsel team’s spokesman Lee Kyu-chul told reporters on Friday that a decision regarding Lee, who faces bribery and perjury charges, will come on Saturday or Sunday.

The team is said to be leaning toward requesting the warrant as it believes Lee was deeply involved in giving Choi and her family hefty sums of money in return for government support for Samsung C&T’s merger with Cheil Industries in 2015.

The team led by Park Young-soo will also take into account conflicting statements he made from his testimony during a hearing last month at the National Assembly.

Lee returned home at around 8 a.m. Friday after undergoing 22 hours of investigation by the independent counsel team.

The Samsung heir is said to have told investigators that though it’s true that Samsung Group extended huge amounts of money to Choi and her family due to pressure from President Park Geun-hye’s, the funds were not given in return for favors.  [KBS World Radio]

I guess we will see how this plays out in the coming days.