Jail for close confidante of ex-South Korean president

Jail for close confidante of ex-South Korean president
By Tokunbo Salako  with REUTERS

Choi was at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal that rocked the country's business and political elite

A long-time confidante of South Korea’s former president has been jailed for three years for corruption.

Choi Soon-sil was accused of using her links with the head of state to force a university to give her daughter preferential treatment.

Her conviction is the first ruling in a corruption scandal that’s shocked the nation since it erupted last October.

She and ex-president Park Geun-hye also face charges of collecting bribes totaling some six million euros from South Korea’s top businesses and political elite.

Both Park and Choi deny the charges.

Prosecutors accused Choi of facilitating her daughter’s admission to the prestigious Ewha Women’s University and conspiring with the faculty there to have her daughter’s academic records altered despite poor class attendance and plagiarised reports. The court also sentenced the president of the university to two years in prison.

Choi’s 20-year-old daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, an Asian Games equestrian gold medallist, fled to Europe last year. She returned to South Korea earlier this month and claimed that she wanted to clear up any misunderstandings.

Her entrance to the university and her high school diploma were canceled after authorities found her high school attendance and test grades had been forged.

Prosecutors have twice sought an arrest warrant for Chung to detain her over the corruption scandal, alleging that Samsung Electronics had provided her with financial assistance to sponsor her equestrian training.

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