South Korea: Prosecutors detain ex-presidential aide

Ex-senior adviser becomes second person to be held in influence-peddling scandal engulfing Park Geun-hye's presidency.

    South Korean prosecutors are reported to have detained a former aide to President Park Geun-hye, the second person to be held in an influence-peddling scandal that has shaken the country.

    Prosecutors said on Thursday that they have been looking into allegations that the former senior adviser, An Chong-bum, and Choi Soon-sil, a long-time confidante, forced South Korean conglomerates to donate funds to non-profit foundations using their connections with Park.

    An, who was a senior presidential adviser in policy coordination until he stepped down late last month amid the crisis, was arrested late on Wednesday.

    READ MORE: South Korea President Park names Kim Byong-joon as PM

    He said earlier outside prosecution offices that he would take responsibility for his actions but declined to elaborate.

    An's lawyers were not immediately available for comment early on Thursday. Prosecutors placed him under emergency detention, worried that he could destroy evidence, the prosecution official told Reuters news agency.

    Under South Korean law, prosecutors have 48 hours to seek an arrest warrant from a court.

    On Wednesday, Park replaced her prime minister and finance minister, a reshuffle denounced by political opponents as a bid to divert attention from a crisis that has pushed her approval rating to an all-time low.

    Investigation calls

    Members of opposition parties have called for prosecutors to investigate Park.

    She has also faced calls from political opponents and a growing number of South Koreans to step down, although the main opposition parties have not raised the idea of launching impeachment proceedings.

    Last weekend, Park accepted the resignations of eight of her top presidential aides, and on Thursday her office announced nominees for a new chief of staff and senior secretary for political affairs.

    South Korea detains president's confidant amid controversy

    Prosecutors on Wednesday asked a court for a warrant to arrest Choi, 60, and are seeking to charge her with abuse of power and attempted fraud.

    Choi was detained late on Monday.

    Choi, who has been a confidant of Park's for decades but held no formal government role, is alleged to have used her proximity to the president to meddle in state affairs.

    Her lawyer has said he expects prosecutors to look into whether she inappropriately received classified documents.

    Choi told South Korea's Segye Ilbo newspaper last week that she received drafts of Park's speeches after Park's election victory but denied she had access to other official material, influenced state affairs or benefited financially.

    Inside Story: Will South Korea's president be forced out of office?

    SOURCE: Agencies


    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    The great plunder: Nepal's stolen treasures

    How the art world's hunger for ancient artefacts is destroying a centuries-old culture. A journey across the Himalayas.