Top Conglomerate Leaders to Answer whether Choi Soon-sil Squeezed Money from them

Top Conglomerate Leaders to Answer whether Choi Soon-sil Squeezed Money from them

SEOUL, Dec. 5 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's top business moguls are set to face a parliamentary inquiry this week over their possible connection to the corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil, political pundits said Monday.

A National Assembly committee looking into the case has summoned Samsung Group's heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo and other heads of the nation's largest businesses to testify before a hearing Tuesday over allegations that they were pressured to donate to two foundations, Mir and K-Sports, allegedly controlled by Choi.

Choi was charged over allegations that she exerted influence on state affairs and enjoyed unlawful benefits based on her friendship with the president.

Park and her aides allegedly aided in the shakedown of the conglomerates. Choi is presumed to have tried to siphon off money to enrich herself from the two nonprofit organizations.

Samsung faces questioning over allegations that the presidential office exerted influence on the National Pension Service, the country's top institutional investor, to back the group's merger deal.

In 2015, the Samsung Group merged two of its affiliates despite opposition from overseas investors. The state pension, which held an 11.6-percent stake in then-Samsung C&T Corp. and a 5-percent stake in Cheil Industries Inc., supported Samsung to the detriment of minor shareholders.

It has been discovered that the conglomerate later provided favors to Choi and her daughter. Prosecutors suspect that Samsung injected around US$3 million to a Germany-based firm owned by Choi and her daughter Chung Yoo-ra.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won will be quizzed over whether the group's donation of 11.1 billion won to the foundations was linked to his special pardon in August 2015 from imprisonment for embezzlement.

Chey will also face questioning over allegations that SK Group may have asked the government for a favor regarding its duty-free business during his personal meeting with Park in February.

Lotte Group will also be questioned if it has made a behind-the-scenes deal with Park for its duty-free businesses.

Opposition parties are expected to focus on proving that conglomerates bribed Park. If the allegations turn out to be true, it will help in winning approval from the Constitutional Court if the impeachment motion is passed on Friday, pundits added.

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