Former Senior Presidential Secretary An Chong-bum Arrested in Scandal

Former Senior Presidential Secretary An Chong-bum Arrested in Scandal

SEOUL, Nov. 6 (Yonhap) -- A former presidential secretary was arrested Sunday after he resigned over alleged involvement in the latest political scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye's confidante.

The Seoul Central District Court issued a warrant to formally arrest An Chong-bum on suspicions of abuse of authority and attempted coercion.

The 57-year-old is one of Park's top secretaries who resigned on Oct. 30 following the latest scandal.

The former senior secretary for policy coordination has been in custody since late Wednesday after hours of questioning by prosecutors over a string of allegations.

Prosecutors suspect that An collaborated with Choi Soon-sil, longtime friend of Park and the woman at the heart of the scandal, to pressure local companies to donate nearly 80 billion won (US$70 million) to two nonprofit organizations. There have been allegations that the money was then illegally funneled to Choi.

The 60-year-old woman, suspected to have meddled in various state affairs and amassed profits using her ties to the president, is also in custody, as the same court issued a warrant to arrest her Thursday night.

Professor-turned-presidential advisor An is also accused of attempting to force a local company to hand over to a third party shares of another firm that it took over. An associate of Choi is suspected to having taken part in the process.

In addition, the court issued a warrant to arrest Jeong Ho-seong, the former secretary for private presidential affairs, for handing over state documents to Choi.

The latest arrest came less than two days after President Park Geun-hye apologized for a second time in a nationally televised address, saying she will accept, if needed, a probe regarding her role in the alleged wrongdoings.

In the first address, she admitted to handing over drafts of presidential speeches to Choi, who holds no governmental post, and letting her edit them.

The second apology came as the first one, which took place on Oct. 25, failed to allay public outrage over the scandal which has only been snowballing. Her approval rating crashed to 5 percent late last week, the lowest ever for a sitting South Korean president, according to a survey conducted by Gallup Korea.'

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