Former Aids to President Park Receives Prison Sentences for Managing “Cultural Blacklist”

It will be interesting to see if any of these ex-aids of President Park were flipped to give evidence against her?  These sentences makes me think that if the prosecutors cannot get President Park on the Samsung corruption charges then maybe they will convict her for knowing about this “cultural blacklist” her aides were running:

This combined photo shows former chief of staff Kim Ki-choon (L) and ex-Culture Minister Cho Yoon-sun entering the Seoul Central District Court in southern Seoul on July 27, 2017, to hear their sentencing. (Yonhap)

A former top aide of ousted president Park Geun-hye was sentenced to three years in jail on Thursday for running a list of culture figures critical of the government that barred them from state support.

The Seoul Central District Court doled out the sentence to former presidential chief of staff Kim Ki-choon after finding him guilty of abuse of power and perjury.

But Cho Yoon-sun, who served as the culture minister under the Park administration, was acquitted of her charges related to the so-called cultural blacklist and was released from prison after the court gave her a one-year jail term suspended for two years. The court found her guilty only of lying before the parliament at a hearing on the blacklist scandal last year.

The special counsel team investigating the case demanded seven years in prison for Kim and six years for Cho in the final hearing on July 3.

Kim’s lawyers immediately vowed to appeal the ruling, calling it “unjust.”

The court also sentenced five other former ranking government officials to 18 months to two years in jail, with some on probation, for their involvement in creating and managing the blacklist.

Former culture minister Kim Jong-deok was sentenced to two years in prison, while former presidential education and culture senior secretary Kim Sang-ryul was handed an 18-month imprisonment. Former presidential culture and sports secretary Kim So-young was given 18 months in jail, suspended for two years.

Former vice culture minister Chung Kwan-joo and ex-presidential aide Shin Dong-churl were sentenced to one year and a half in jail each.

The artist blacklist is part of a massive corruption scandal that removed Park from office in March. Kim and Cho were indicted in February for masterminding the creation of a register of nearly 10,000 artists, writers and filmmakers deemed unfriendly to the conservative administration. Those on the list were denied state subsidies. The accused have maintained their innocence.  [Yonhap]

You can read more at the link.

Choi Soon-sil Receives 3-Year Jail Sentence for Admissions Corruption

Choi Soon-sil is likely just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to college admissions corruption so prosecutors are probably trying to send a message to other people trying to do this with this sentence:

Choi Soon-sil

The Seoul Central District Court handed Choi Soon-sil a three-year prison term in the first trial Friday over charges she made Ewha Womans University provide favors for her daughter in admissions and grading.

This was the first court ruling for Choi over the influence-peddling scandal, which removed her longtime friend former President Park Geun-hye from office in March.

Hearings are taking place for other cases including allegedly pressuring conglomerates for funds and receiving bribes from Samsung in return for granting it business favors.

Choi has been detained and indicted on charges of work disturbance for making the school’s faculty change rules to admit her daughter Chung Yoo-ra and give her passing grades despite her absence from school. The independent counsel team led by Park Young-soo had sought seven years for that charge.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Seoul Court Denies Prosecutors Request to Arrest Chung Yoo-ra

Like I have been saying all along, I saw no evidence that Chung Yoo-ra did anything illegal.  It appeared from the start that the attempts to arrest her were to put pressure on her mom, Choi Soon-sil to cooperate on implicating former President Park in her allegedly corrupt dealings.  With Park currently behind bars and standing trial right now, there is less urgency to use Chung to pressure her mom:

Chung Yoo-ra brought to the district prosecutors office in Seoul. [Chosun Ilbo]

A Seoul court on Saturday rejected a prosecution request for the arrest of a daughter of ousted President Park Geun-hye’s friend at the center of a massive corruption scandal that removed the former leader.

Chung Yoo-ra, the daughter of Park’s longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, was freed after the court dismissed the prosecution request for her arrest.  [Yonhap]

Park Geun-hye’s Lawyer States Prosecution Mostly Using News Articles as Evidence

I am not a lawyer so I am wondering if anyone who is a lawyer knows if news media articles can be considered evidence in a US court?  If so how strong of evidence would that be?:

Former President Park Geun-hye attended her first court hearing over the corruption scandal that removed her from office and denied all charges against her, Tuesday.

This is the first time in 53 days that she has made a public appearance since she was arrested, March 31.

Handcuffed and with her trademark hairstyle, Park arrived at the Seoul Central District Court before entering the courtroom at 10 a.m.

Park and her confidant of 40 years Choi Soon-sil saw each other for the first time in eight months since Choi left for Germany last September after the corruption scandal broke out.

Park entered the courtroom first and sat looking straight ahead not turning her head even the slightest, while Choi entered the courtroom and sat two seats away from her, next to her attorney Lee Kyung-jae.

When asked by presiding Judge Kim Se-yun, on her current occupation, Park said, “I don’t have an occupation.”

When offered a chance to speak, Choi whimpered and said, “I am a sinner for having Park whom I’ve been close to for more than 40 years stand trial.”

“I do not believe Park was involved in any criminal activities, bribery or otherwise. I think the prosecution is pushing this too far, and I wish the court would clear her of the suspected wrongdoings thereby letting her remain as the president who devoted her life to the country.”

Choi blamed her former associate Park Won-oh, a former head of the Korea Equestrian Federation, over allegations that Samsung offered financial support for her daughter, the former dressage competitor Chung Yoo-ra.

“My daughter already had her own horse when she was in Germany. Then Park asked Samsung for support and Samsung bought a horse and a car. I can take responsibility for that, but not the charges by the prosecution that the support for my daughter was in return for the government-backed merger of Samsung’s two units,” she said.

Park’s defense attorney Yoo Young-ha said the charges against her lacked foundation and largely relied on imagination, inference and media reports.

“Most of the evidence submitted by the prosecution is news articles. The prosecution determined news reports valid as evidence in a criminal case,” he said.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at the link.

Choi Soon-sil and Park Guen-hye To Stand Trial Together

It will be interesting to see how this trial turns out that begins on May 23rd with both former President Park and her alleged partner in corruption Choi Soon-sil standing trial together:

Choi Soon-sil

The charges mostly center on an extortion racket Park and Choi allegedly ran out of Cheong Wa Dae by using two dubious nonprofits Choi set up and staffed with her drinking buddies.

The trial proper starts on May 23 and will bring the two women together for the first time since their schemes started to unravel last autumn and Choi fled abroad. The court rejected a request by Choi to be tried separately.

Choi’s lawyer Lee Kyung-jae, in a typically florid submission, said his client feels “unbearable shame” at having to stand trial next to Park, whom she respected for many years. Lee added the prospect is tantamount to the pain of “gouging out her own eyes.” [Chosun Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Professor Arrested for Stashing Stolen $177,000 In Sungkyunkwan University Locker

You would think this guy would find a more secure location to hide this much money.  He is lucky the students who found the money did not just walk away with it.  Considering he is now under arrest maybe it would have been better for him:

(Left) A money envelope containing bills in a locker at Sungkyunkwan University on March 7. (Right) Inside is 200 million won (177,000 dollar) in cash. [SUWON JUNGBU POLICE PRECINCT]

An envelope containing a bundle of bills amounting to 200 million won ($177,000) was found in a student locker at Sungkyunkwan University campus in Suwon, Gyeonggi.

The owner happens to be a professor of Sungkyunkwan University and husband to attorney, Choi Yu-jeong, who was arrested last year for her involvement in corruption.

The life science student association at the Sungkyunkwan University Natural Sciences campus in Suwon was undergoing spring cleaning on March 7 when they discovered a locked locker. Unable to identify the owner, they forced open the locker.

Inside they found a yellow envelope containing 1,800 50,000 won bills and 1,000 100 dollar bills. The student association immediately notified the school and reported this to the police.

The Suwon police poured through footage from the CCTV cameras on campus. However, as there were no CCTV cameras covering the lockers, the investigation did not progress. The students said the locker had been locked since August.

Fortunately, police were able to spot a man, later identified as a Sungkyunkwan University professor, moving towards the student lockers with a bag on Feb. 16.

The Sungkyunkwan University professor returned to the scene on March 8 to verify whether the money was still safely stashed there. Since there are no faculty offices in the vicinity of the student locker room and the area is generally not visited by professors, this piqued the interest of investigators.

Unluckily for the academic, that day happened to be a day after the student association’s report to the police.

The police found he was the husband of Choi and subsequently searched his office on Tuesday while requesting his presence at the police department. “At the request of my wife, I deposited [the money] at the locker,” he confessed.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Korean Prosecutors to Seek Arrest Warrant for Former President Park Geun-hye

I have yet to see any solid evidence that former President Park was trying to shake down people for money like her friend Choi Soon-shil was apparently doing.  Despite the lack of evidence it is pretty clear that the Korean left just wants to see Park dragged into a courtroom.  I guess we will see what happens, maybe the prosecutors have some hard evidence they have not released:

Former President Park Geun-hye leaves her home in Seoul for prosecution questioning on March 21, 2017. Park, dismissed by the Constitutional Court on March 10, faces a probe on 13 criminal allegations, including graft and abuse of power. Upon arrival at the prosecution’s office, Park said she will comply with the investigation with sincerity. (Yonhap)

South Korean prosecutors said Monday they will request an arrest warrant for former President Park Geun-hye over a string of corruption allegations that led to her removal from office.

Park faces charges of bribery, abuse of power, coercion and leaking government secrets in connection with a scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

Park went through a marathon interrogation over the suspicions last week after the Constitutional Court upheld the National Assembly’s decision to dismiss her on March 10.

If the Seoul Central District Court issues the warrant, Park will become the country’s third former president to be arrested for criminal allegations following Roh Tae-woo and Chun Doo-hwan.  [Yonhap]

 

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.

Ban Ki-Moon Poll Numbers Fail to Rise Due to Corruption Allegations

What gets me about the corruption allegations against Ban Ki-moon is that there is no evidence to prove them, but anonymous sources to the media:

Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put in an all-out effort to refute bribery allegations that he took $230,000 from a local businessman over two occasions in 2005 and 2007 as his approval rating remained in second place despite his return to the country and a promotion tour.

Former Saenuri lawmaker Park Min-sik, who acts as a virtual spokesman for the 72-year-old lifelong diplomat, held a press conference at the National Assembly on Monday, denying charges that Ban had taken the money from Park Yeon-cha, former chairman of the Taekwang Company who was convicted of bribery in a separate case.

In an attempt to prove Ban’s innocence, Park disclosed his diary, in which the former foreign minister harshly criticized the businessman for acting “so rude.”

Park first refuted a report by the Sisa Journal which said Ban and Park had met at Ban’s residence on May 3 in 2005 one hour before a scheduled welcome dinner for the Vietnamese foreign minister who was visiting Seoul at the time. The report said Ban received $200,000 in a shopping bag during that time prior to the dinner gathering.  [Joong Ang Ilbo]

You can read more at the link.

Ban Ki-Moon’s Brother Charged By US Authorities for Corruption

It seems like an unwritten law of South Korean politics that every politician has a relative involved in a corruption scandal:

As secretary general of the UN, Mr Ban has played a central role in international politics and diplomatic negotiations

US prosecutors have charged relatives of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with conspiracy to bribe a government official.

Mr Ban’s younger brother and his nephew stand accused of offering money to a Middle Eastern official, through an American middleman.

They allege the two men bribed the official to use state funds to buy their building project.

Mr Ban served as UN secretary general from 2007 until 2016.

He was succeeded by former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres on 1 January 2017. Mr Ban is now being seen as a possible future president in his home country of South Korea. [BBC]

You can read more at the link.