South Korean prosecutors are demanding a 25-year prison sentence for impeached Park Geun-hye’s confidante, who, according to them, might have been “the alpha and omega of the corruption scandal,” that eventually took Park down. Choi is reported to have colluded with Park in a bid to extort millions of dollars from giant corporations in South Korea, including Hyundai and Siemens, and taken advantage of her connection to the ex-president to interfere in state policymaking without holding any official position.
The prosecution has charged Choi with 18 crimes, including bribery and the abuse of power, and seized an estimated $116 million. The defendant denies all these allegations; verdicts are expected in January.
Park Geun-hye, who was sworn in as the first female president of South Korea in 2011, was forced from office in 2016 following a corruption and cronyism scandal which was accompanied by mass protests throughout the country. Her impeachment came immediately after the information about her relationship with Choi Soon-sil was revealed. The prosecution accused her of bribery, the abuse of power, coercion, and leaking government secrets. Park became the country’s first democratically elected president to be removed from office.