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South Korea: Former health minister arrested over Samsung merger

 |  January 1, 2017

Former Minister of Health and Welfare Moon Hyung-pyo was arrested early Wednesday morning on charges that he coerced the National Pension Service to approve a controversial merger between two Samsung units last year.

It was the first arrest by an independent counsel that last week launched a 70-day probe into the abuse of power scandal that led to President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment. The 108-member squad, the largest independent counsel in Korean history, will ultimately decide whether Park should be indicted when she leaves office.

One possible charge is that Park committed third-party bribery, which could put her in jail for at least five years – or in the worst-case scenario, her entire life, depending on the amount of money involved.

The merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries is one of several business deals that are being linked to Park’s alleged strong-arming of conglomerates to donate to two foundations. The independent counsel is trying to find business favors given to those companies in return.

Moon, who currently serves as President and CEO of the National Pension Service, was detained on charges of abuse of power less than 24 hours after he was summoned for questioning. The 61-year-old, who was called in as a witness on Tuesday, was relabeled as a suspect soon after the independent counsel said it collected several key pieces of evidence and testimony that indicated he illegally played a key role in the merger.

Full Content: Korea JoongAng Daily

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