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Monday, March 20, 2017, 17:46

South Korea closes foundations at center of scandal

By Agencies

 South Korea closes foundations at center of scandal
SEOUL – South Korea's Culture Ministry said on Monday it had cancelled licenses for two non-profit foundations at the center of a political scandal that led to the ouster of President Park Geun-hye.

It turned out corporations that funded the foundations made contributions not voluntarily for the sake of public good but out of pressure or in order to give bribes

Ministry of Culture, South Korea

A lawyer of Park, meanwhile, said she would indicate her position before being questioned by prosecutors on Tuesday over the scandal.

The special investigation headquarters of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, which took over the probe into the scandal this month, had summoned the former president for questioning.

Park was thrown out of office on March 10 when the Constitutional Court upheld a parliamentary vote to impeach her over accusations of colluding with a friend, Choi Soon-sil, to pressure big businesses to donate to the two foundations, Mir and K-Sports, set up to back the president’s policy initiatives.

Park is also accused of allowing Choi to exert inappropriate influence over state affairs. Park is set to appear before prosecutors for questioning for the first time on Tuesday.

Both Park and Choi have denied wrongdoing. Park has apologized for exercising poor judgment in her ties with Choi.

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The Ministry Of Culture, which grants licenses to foundations, questioned the motives behind corporate donations to the two foundations, which had come to the attention of parliamentary investigators and prosecutors.

 South Korea closes foundations at center of scandal
"It turned out corporations that funded the foundations made contributions not voluntarily for the sake of public good but out of pressure or in order to give bribes," the ministry said in a statement.

The ministry also quoted the ruling by the Constitutional Court, which found that the non-profit foundations were run for the sake of private interests under the control of Choi, Park's friend.

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Park, 65, lost her presidential immunity when she was ousted from office and could now face criminal charges of bribery, extortion and abuse of power.

Mir, or "dragon", was set up in October 2015 to promote cultural exchanges with other countries. K-Sports was set up in January last year and was involved in sports-related projects.

The ministry said it would begin the process to liquidate the foundations and would make a decision later on their assets, depending on the outcomes of related trials.

Both of the foundations declined to comment.


Sohn Beom-gyu, one of Park's legal team, said via text message that Park would convey her stance around the time she appears in the prosecutors' office for questioning.

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Park had a prepared message to tell, but he noted that he was not informed of further details, said the lawyer.

Park is scheduled to appear in the office at about 9:30 am local time on Tuesday, becoming the fourth South Korean former president to be interrogated by prosecutors.

During the questioning, state prosecutors would focus on Park's alleged involvement in charges of bribery, abuse of power and the leakage of state secrets, according to local media reports.

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