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Samsung's Seoul offices raided as government scandal grows

Prosecutors are seeking information tying South Korea's conglomerates to Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of President Park Geun-hye.

By
Ed Adamczyk
The Seoul offices of Samsung Electronics Corp. were raided Tuesday by prosecutors seeking information about a government scandal rocking the government of President Park Geun-hye, pictured. File Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI
The Seoul offices of Samsung Electronics Corp. were raided Tuesday by prosecutors seeking information about a government scandal rocking the government of President Park Geun-hye, pictured. File Photo by Yonhap News Agency/UPI

SEOUL, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Prosecutors raided the Seoul officers of Samsung Electronics Corp. Tuesday, seeking information pertinent to a growing influence-peddling scandal.

The government of South Korean president Park Geun-hye has been impacted by the scandal, which centers on the alleged influence the country's conglomerates have on the government. Her chief of staff and four aides resigned, tens of thousands of people protested in the Seoul streets calling for her resignation and her approval rating reached a new low.

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Prosecutors said they seized documents related to Samsung's business activities, and also raided eight other homes and organizations, including the Korean Equestrian Federation. The daughter of Choi Soon-sil, a longtime confidante of Park, is a registered equestrian athlete at the federation, and the raid included the office of Park Sang-jin, Samsung's chief of external affairs and president of the equestrian organization; the prosecutors said they are investigating an alleged Samsung payment of $3.1 million to a company owned by Choi to fund her daughter's athletic training.

The raids came after a director at the equestrian group was questioned about allegations Choi collaborated to force companies to donate to two nonprofit foundations; the allegations suggest the funds were channeled to Choi, who is suspected of involvement in government business and profiting from her association with the president.

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President Park's two public apologies last week failed to satisfy critics. Her approval rating fell to five percent in a Gallup Korea poll, and another protest rally is scheduled for Saturday in Seoul.

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