Daughter of Park friend back in SKorea to face investigation

AP News
Posted: May 31, 2017 5:02 AM
Daughter of Park friend back in SKorea to face investigation

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A South Korean woman extradited from Denmark arrived in Seoul on Wednesday to face questions about the massive corruption scandal centered on her mother and the country's ousted president.

A handcuffed Chung Yoo-ra, a 20-year-old single mother and equestrian athlete, told reporters at Incheon International Airport that she knew nothing about the alleged crimes committed by her mother and former President Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office and arrested in March over charges including bribery and abuse of power. Authorities then escorted Chung to a prosecution office in Seoul for questioning.

"I don't know anything that happened between my mother and the former president," said Chung, who spent the past several months in detention in Denmark. "Speaking for myself, I feel wrongfully accused."

Chung's return may allow prosecutors to expand their inquiry into Park, who is currently standing trial on the corruption charges.

Prosecutors had obtained a detention warrant for Chung to investigate her over various allegations, including that she, despite questionable qualifications, was given admission to a prestigious Seoul university and received academic favors from the school because of her mother's presidential ties.

Prosecutors also see Chung as a critical figure in the suspected bribery connections between Park and corporate giant Samsung.

According to prosecutors, Park colluded with Chung's mother, Choi Soon-sil, to take about $26 million in bribes from Samsung and was promised tens of millions of dollars more from Samsung and other companies. The money prosecutors see as bribes include $7 million that Samsung provided to a sports consulting firm controlled by Choi that financed Chung's equestrian training in Germany.

In her conversation with reporters at the airport, Chung said she never thought she was getting preferential treatment from Samsung. "My mother told me that Samsung was planning to support six equestrian athletes, and I thought I was just one of them," she said.

Park and Choi have denied the bribery accusations in court.

Danish officials arrested Chung in the northern city of Aalborg in January on an international warrant. Chung tried to fight the extradition, but a Danish court earlier this month ruled in favor of South Korean prosecutors.