Key suspects in S.Korean presidential scandal get into prisoners' dilemma_XinHua_Asia Pacific Daily

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Key suspects in S.Korean presidential scandal get into prisoners' dilemma

XinHua2017-01-11

Two key suspects in a scandal involving impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye got into prisoners' dilemma, heralding a possible revelation fight in the courtroom. Chang Si-ho, niece of President Park's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil at the center of the scandal, had submitted a tablet PC belonging to Choi to an independent counsel team dedicated to investigating the case. The team's spokesman said Tuesday the tablet computer had been voluntarily submitted. Choi has consistently denied her possession of the tablet PC, claiming her inability to use such gadgets. The second device, which was allegedly used by Choi between July and November 2015, could be a smoking gun as it includes a number of emails on the establishment of a German company, owned by Choi and her daughter, and on the financial support Samsung Group provided to the Choi-owned company. Samsung, the country's largest family-run conglomerate, is suspected of having offered millions of U.S. dollars to Choi's daughter for her equestrian training by signing a 22-billion-won (18-million-dollar) contract with the Choi-owned firm in Germany. It also made the biggest donation among scores of conglomerates to two Choi-controlled nonprofit foundations, while providing 1.63 billion won to a winter sports center, presumably managed by Choi's niece. Choi's niece, who is now in custody, has been under trial as a criminal accomplice to Choi for charges of extorting the money from Samsung. Chang and Choi have allegedly given conflicting testimonies. Chang said she just followed what her aunt ordered, while Choi denied her involvement in the extortion. By law, a plea bargaining is not allowed in South Korea, but prosecutors and courts can take into account active cooperation in criminal investigations when determining sentences. Chang may have decided to testify against her aunt to extenuate her sentences. Choi reportedly blazed up when she heard about her niece's submission of the tablet computer to prosecutors. Driven into a corner, Choi could break silence and start to confess to alleged crimes committed by President Park. Choi reportedly demanded the replacement of her lawyer, which she claimed he only sought to defend the president.Suspicion was raised that Samsung had provided all of the financial assistance in return for getting support in the merger in July 2015 of two affiliates to create the group's de-facto holding company. The merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was extremely crucial to the management control transfer to Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong from his father Chairman Lee Kun-hee. The country's national pension fund, then biggest shareholder of Samsung C&T, exercised its casting vote despite strong oppositions from foreign investors and outside advisory organs. The impeached president, who met face-to-face with Samsung's heir apparent around the time of the merger, is suspected of having ordered the health and welfare minister to pressure the national pension fund into voting for the Samsung merger. Jung Cheong-rae, former lawmaker of the main opposition Minjoo Party, said in his Twitter account that the sense of comradeship between the president and her confidante is gradually being broken. Jung said the possibility for a "revelation war" in the courtroom can not be ruled out as no one backs another up. 

Two key suspects in a scandal involving impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye got into prisoners' dilemma, heralding a possible revelation fight in the courtroom. 

Chang Si-ho, niece of President Park's longtime friend Choi Soon-sil at the center of the scandal, had submitted a tablet PC belonging to Choi to an independent counsel team dedicated to investigating the case. 

The team's spokesman said Tuesday the tablet computer had been voluntarily submitted. 

Choi has consistently denied her possession of the tablet PC, claiming her inability to use such gadgets. 

The second device, which was allegedly used by Choi between July and November 2015, could be a smoking gun as it includes a number of emails on the establishment of a German company, owned by Choi and her daughter, and on the financial support Samsung Group provided to the Choi-owned company. 

Samsung, the country's largest family-run conglomerate, is suspected of having offered millions of U.S. dollars to Choi's daughter for her equestrian training by signing a 22-billion-won (18-million-dollar) contract with the Choi-owned firm in Germany. 

It also made the biggest donation among scores of conglomerates to two Choi-controlled nonprofit foundations, while providing 1.63 billion won to a winter sports center, presumably managed by Choi's niece. 

Choi's niece, who is now in custody, has been under trial as a criminal accomplice to Choi for charges of extorting the money from Samsung. 

Chang and Choi have allegedly given conflicting testimonies. Chang said she just followed what her aunt ordered, while Choi denied her involvement in the extortion. 

By law, a plea bargaining is not allowed in South Korea, but prosecutors and courts can take into account active cooperation in criminal investigations when determining sentences. 

Chang may have decided to testify against her aunt to extenuate her sentences. Choi reportedly blazed up when she heard about her niece's submission of the tablet computer to prosecutors. 

Driven into a corner, Choi could break silence and start to confess to alleged crimes committed by President Park. Choi reportedly demanded the replacement of her lawyer, which she claimed he only sought to defend the president.

Suspicion was raised that Samsung had provided all of the financial assistance in return for getting support in the merger in July 2015 of two affiliates to create the group's de-facto holding company. 

The merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was extremely crucial to the management control transfer to Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong from his father Chairman Lee Kun-hee. 

The country's national pension fund, then biggest shareholder of Samsung C&T, exercised its casting vote despite strong oppositions from foreign investors and outside advisory organs. 

The impeached president, who met face-to-face with Samsung's heir apparent around the time of the merger, is suspected of having ordered the health and welfare minister to pressure the national pension fund into voting for the Samsung merger. 

Jung Cheong-rae, former lawmaker of the main opposition Minjoo Party, said in his Twitter account that the sense of comradeship between the president and her confidante is gradually being broken. 

Jung said the possibility for a "revelation war" in the courtroom can not be ruled out as no one backs another up. 

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