Korea's Lotte chairman charged in connection with corruption: prosecutors

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Former President Park Geun-hye arrives at a detention center in Uiwang, south of Seoul, in a vehicle on March 31, 2017, after a court issued a warrant to arrest her in connection with a corruption scandal that led to her removal from office. Park has been questioned nearly half-a-dozen times for these charges since her detainment.

Park, who is now in prison, is accused of colluding with her confidante Choi Soon-sil to take bribes and extort donations from local firms for Choi-controlled entities.

Three televised apologies by Park couldn't stop the public outrage, which led to enormous protests in the capital Seoul. Park was also charged with abuse of power and coercion by pressuring big businesses to contribute funds to non-profit foundations, the prosecutors said.

Ms Park was formally arrested on 31 March over the allegations, with prosecutors expected to release formal charges against her next week.

Park is accused of leaking state secrets to Choi, a high school graduate with no title or security clearance, and letting her handle a wide range of state affairs including senior nomination.

The media outlet specified that prosecutors have been advancing the investigation to finish it before the Monday's launch of the official campaign for the early presidential election slated for the May 9.

Park is also charged with taking bribes worth about 29.8 billion won from Samsung scion Lee in exchange for supporting his succession, according to the prosecutors' statement.

The facility hurriedly executed her demand and allowed the ex-leader to stay two days in one of its office rooms used for night shift workers, the report added.

Prosecutors on Monday also charged Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin without detaining him.

Park, Korea's first leader to be impeached and removed from office, became the third former president of the country to stand trial for bribery.

Park is the daughter of the former military dictator Park Chung-hee, who seized power in a coup in 1961 and ruled South Korea with martial law until his assassination in 1979. Critics say Park's 2012 election would not have happened without conservatives' nostalgia for her father.

Park Geun-hye once described Choi, 60, as someone who helped her when she had difficulties in the past, an apparent reference to her parents' deaths.

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