Ruling, Opposition Parties Agree over Independent Counsel Probe into Choi Scandal

Ruling, Opposition Parties Agree over Independent Counsel Probe into Choi Scandal

SEOUL, Nov. 14 (Yonhap) -- Ruling and opposition parties agreed Monday to enact an independent counsel probe into an influence-peddling scandal involving President Park Geun-hye's close confidante.

The ruling Saenuri Party, the main opposition Democratic Party and the minor opposition People's Party also agreed to carry out a separate parliamentary probe into the scandal that has rocked the nation over the past several weeks.

The parties plan to pass the two probes during the National Assembly's plenary session slated for Thursday, officials said.

Under the cross-party agreement, an independent counsel will be recommended by the two opposition parties and appointed by the president. The special probe team, which will consist of more than 60 prosecutors and investigators, will have a mandate of up to four months.

The probe team will look into the allegations that Park's close friend Choi Soon-sil abused her decadeslong ties to the president to meddle in important state affairs and even influence government appointments.

The team is also mandated to investigate the suspicion that Choi pressured local conglomerates into donating large sums of money to create two nonprofit foundations and gained financially from the foundations.

It is, in addition, to probe the claim that Park's former aides had leaked presidential documents, including confidential information, to Choi and her associates.

The envisioned parliamentary investigation will be conducted for two months. It can be extended once by a month.

The probe panel will be comprised of nine people from the ruling party and nine others from opposition parties.'

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