April 17 (UPI) — South Korean prosecutors indicted former President Park Geun-hye on Monday, charging the impeached leader with bribery and abuse of power.
Prosecutors are concluding a six-month investigation into the corruption and influence-peddling allegations that led to Park’s impeachment. Prosecutors also charged Park, 65, with coercion and leaking government secrets in relation to 18 suspected crimes, which mostly involve long-time friend Choi Soon-sil and former key aides.
Choi is believed to have used her relationship with Park, who was jailed in late March, to extort tens of millions of dollars from Korea’s top conglomerates, including Samsung. In the indictment, prosecutors accused Park of taking and soliciting bribes worth $52 million from Samsung, Lotte and SK for herself or Choi.
Park, who faces a prison sentence ranging from 10 years to life if convicted, was removed from office on March 10. The scandal led to the arrest of Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee.
South Koreans are scheduled to elect a new president in May. The corruption allegations were first revealed after a South Korean outlet disclosed that a tablet PC allegedly used by Choi held documents related to state affairs — some prosecutors concluded were government secrets.