Chief of another S. Korean chaebol questioned

SK Group chairman Mr Chey is under probe in connection with the graft case that brought down President Park.
SK Group chairman Mr Chey is under probe in connection with the graft case that brought down President Park.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

SEOUL • South Korean prosecutors questioned the chairman of the SK Group yesterday, in connection with an influence-peddling scandal that brought down President Park Geun Hye, the latest corporate leader to come under suspicion.

Ms Park faces allegations that she colluded with a friend, Choi Soon Sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to foundations set up to back her policy initiatives.

Officials at the prosecutors' office could not be reached immediately for comment about their reasons for summoning SK chairman Chey Tae Won. Mr Chey did not comment to reporters when he arrived at the prosecution office. A spokesman for the SK Group also declined to comment.

Ms Park is due to appear for questioning on Tuesday. Her supporters yesterday marched through the streets of Seoul demanding the repeal of her impeachment. Ms Park and Choi have denied wrongdoing.

An election to pick a new president will be held on May 9 and reform of South Korea's powerful family-run conglomerates, known as chaebol, is a major campaign issue.

The SK Group is South Korea's third-largest chaebol. Mr Chey is likely to be asked about discussions between the group and the presidential Blue House in 2015, around the time he was released from prison when a four-year term for embezzlement was commuted. Three SK executives were questioned last Thursday as part of the same probe.

At least two other conglomerates are being investigated, including the Samsung Group, South Korea's largest chaebol. Its leader, Lee Jae Yong, is in detention on trial on bribery, embezzlement and other charges. Lee denies all charges and Samsung denies wrongdoing.

A spokesman for the Lotte Group said last week it was cooperating with the prosecutors' investigation.

Ms Park, who was impeached last December and dismissed from office on March 10, is accused of bribery, extortion and abuse of power in the scandal that has rocked South Korea since October.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 19, 2017, with the headline 'Chief of another S. Korean chaebol questioned'. Print Edition | Subscribe