President Park's Former Chief of Staff Banned from Leaving Korea

President Park's Former Chief of Staff Banned from Leaving Korea

SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye's former chief of staff has been banned from leaving the country, as part of a probe into an influence-peddling scandal surrounding Park and her close confidante Choi Soon-sil, government sources said Thursday.

The special investigation team led by independent counsel Park Young-soo has imposed an overseas travel ban on Kim Ki-choon, 77, who served as the chief of staff from 2013 to 2015. He is suspected of overlooking, or even protecting, Choi as she meddled in state affairs without holding an official government post. Choi was arrested and indicted last month.

The independent counsel team, while preparing to officially launch its investigation, also put travel bans on other key figures involved in the scandal, including doctors who are suspected of giving treatments to President Park without leaving official records.

The spokesperson of the investigation team Lee Kyu-chul confirmed that they have barred a number of people from leaving the country. Lee, however, declined to comment on who they were or how many have been put under the restriction.

Independent counsel Park Young-soo is accelerating the preparation for the investigation, which will last for 70 days after the official launch. He has an additional 20 days for preparation and the probe can be extended for another month.

The embattled president faces allegations that she allowed her friend Choi to influence state affairs and amass profits using her ties to the president.

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