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South Korea suspects corruption scandal extends to Myanmar

By Elizabeth Shim
South Korea suspects corruption scandal extends to Myanmar
Choi Soon-sil (C), who is in the center of a corruption scandal, is suspected of interfering with a government project in Myanmar, according to South Korea investigators. Photo by KPPA/EPA

Jan. 30 (UPI) -- Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of a political scandal involving impeached President Park Geun-hye, is suspected of gaining illicit profits from a Seoul aid program in Myanmar, according to the South Korean team investigating the case.

Seoul's Independent Counsel Park Young-soo and his team began investigations into evidence that indicate Choi, 60, interfered with a South Korea Myanmar aid development project, local news service News 1 reported Monday.

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Prosecutors have said they are seeking another arrest warrant for Choi, and plan to issue a summons for South Korean Ambassador to Myanmar Yoo Jae-kyung.

Investigations into Yoo, which will begin after he is called in to testify, will be related to whether Choi personally gained from her ties to a government development assistance project in Myanmar.

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The venture under probe, dubbed the "K-town project," includes a contract to build a $65 million convention center and bring in South Korea businesses into the country.

Choi may have had a stake in a company overseeing the operations. The profit structure was arranged so Choi would earn revenue if South Korean businesses earned a profit, according to the report.

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Choi is also suspected of being involved in the appointment of the top South Korea diplomat to Myanmar.

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Yoo may have been asked to fill the post after his predecessor, Ambassador Lee Baek-soon was "uncooperative in the project," News 1 reported.

South Korea investigators say Choi may have met with Yoo directly on several occasions, and Yoo is a former Samsung Group executive.

Prosecutors are still trying to determine whether Samsung Electronics, where Yoo worked as a global marketing chief, had sought favors from Choi by sponsoring the equestrian activities of Choi's daughter Chung Yoo-ra.

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Chung, 20, remains in Denmark, where she is to stay in custody until Feb. 22, Yonhap reported.

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