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Former South Korea president's friend sentenced to 20 years in corruption case

Former South Korea president's friend sentenced to 20 years in corruption case
From CBC - February 13, 2018

The friend of former South Korean leader Park Geun-hye who was at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal that rocked the country's business and political elite has been sentenced to 20 years in jail, a Seoul court said on Tuesday.

The Seoul Central District Court said Choi Soon-sil was convicted on abuse of power, bribery and other charges. The court also imposed 18 billion won ($20.8 million Cdn) fine on her.

She was found to have received bribes from South Korean conglomerates including Samsung, the world's biggest maker of smartphones and semiconductors, and the Lotte Group.

Park was dismissed from the presidency last March after being impeached and standing trial separately on charges of bribery, abuse of power and coercion. She denies any wrongdoing.

The court also sentenced the chairman of Lotte, the country's fifth-largest conglomerate, to two years and six months in prison on Tuesday and ordered his immediate arrest. The chairman, Shin Dong-bin, was in court and taken into custody. Prosecutors had sought a four-year jail term for Shin, accusing Lotte of giving a foundation backed by Park and Choi 7 billion won ($8.1 million Cdn) for favours such as a duty free store license.

Shin and Lotte, which has interests ranging from retail to chemicals, had denied the charge.

The jail term for Shin follows a December ruling in which the court found him guilty of breach of trust and embezzlement in a different case but suspended sentencing, leaving him free to run the group.

Samsung heir free on appeal

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