Former Staffer Says President Planned to Head Choi Soon-sil's "Front Company" after Retirement

Former Staffer Says President Planned to Head Choi Soon-sil's "Front Company" after Retirement

   SEOUL, Dec. 26 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye planned to head the K-Sports Foundation after her retirement, one of two foundations standing at the center of an ongoing corruption scandal rocking the country, testimony showed Monday.

   The chief executive, who was impeached by lawmakers on Dec. 9, has been facing the biggest political crisis of her career amid allegations that she actively supported the creation of the two non-profit public foundations, Mir and K-Sports. The two received large-sum donations from local conglomerates with the aim of promoting South Korean culture abroad and assisting athletes.

   Investigators suspect Park's confidante Choi Soon-sil virtually controlled the organizations, and attempted to take control of the foundations' assets.

   "Maybe it was for the money, and to support (Choi's daughter) Chung Yoo-ra," Park Heon-young, a former staffer at K-Sports said during an interview with local radio broadcaster TBS.

   He, however, said his testimony is based on what he heard from Ko Young-tae, a close associate of Choi who had a falling out with Park's friend of over 40 years. He accused Choi of treating people in a demeaning manner and conceded he argued with her before cutting all ties.

   Ko himself is currently under suspicion of perjury after he was accused of giving inaccurate testimony at a parliamentary hearing held earlier in the month.

   The former staff member then said he felt Choi had exerted influence over K-Sports, adding its operations were closely linked with the Blue-K, a private company owned by the confidante. Local conglomerates are estimated to have donated 77.4 billion won (US$64.5 million) to the Mir and K-Sports foundations.

   State prosecutors have said that while Choi may have tried to siphon off money from the foundations, there is no evidence yet to suggest she was able to pocket part of the funds in the foundations for herself. They have formally charged Choi with conspiracy to commit fraud.

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