Park’s legal troubles mount

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Park’s legal troubles mount

President Park Geun-hye has been implicated in an indictment of Cha Eun-taek, a close business associate of the president’s longtime friend Choi Soon-sil along with her former senior secretary An Chong-bum. One of the charges is that the Blue House was involved in strong-arming telecommunications company KT to place ad orders with an advertising company run by Cha.

What this signifies is that the president has come under an additional criminal charge on top of previous allegations of her involvement in illicit fundraising for two nonprofit organizations created by Choi and the leaking of classified state materials. This adds more legal problems for the president in the future. And in the present, it adds more moral pressure on her to comply with the criminal investigations that she has been stonewalling for some time.

The prosecution’s special investigation team arrested Cha and others for abuse of power and coercion. According to the prosecution, Park conspired with Choi, Cha, and An to pressure the KT chairman to award seven commercial projects to their ad agency to help them pocket around 500 million won ($424,000). Prosecutors accused the president of arranging meetings between Cha and KT executives. Park also ordered An to keep an eye on the sale of Poreka, an ad agency arm that Posco was trying to sell, as Choi and Cha had wished to take over the company. They had earlier been frustrated in that ambition and it looked like Lotte group was going to get Poreka instead. Allegedly the president blocked that from happening.

According to prosecution findings, the president meddled in the most nitty-gritty ways to help out her friends. She went the extra mile to ensure Choi and Cha’s pockets were stuffed and egos were burnished. Under such hearty and giving patronage, the two were able to threaten the chief executive of a company that was named the preferred bidder to take over the Posco house ad agency to “bury” him and kill the company through a tax audit.

The president has the obligation to answer these mob-like criminal charges. She must end her stonewalling of the prosecution and accept a face-to-face interrogation by Tuesday. She is worsening her position and whipping up the public backlash by hiding behind her presidential immunity from prosecution. She must explain to the public and prosecution how these allegations can be fiction, as her lawyer claims. She is deluding herself if she thinks she can evade the legal procedures. She should at least save her own dignity.

JoongAng Ilbo, Nov. 28, Page 30

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