South Korea's President Park Geun-hye colluded with her friend Choi Soon-sil to receive bribes from Samsung Group, the special prosecutor's office said on Monday, as it wound up its investigation into an influence-peddling scandal.
The bribes were aimed at cementing Samsung Chief Jay Y Lee's control of the conglomerate, said special prosecutor Park Young-soo.
"Samsung Group vice chairman Lee Jae-yong colluded with others, including the corporate strategy office chief Choi Gee-sung, to bribe the president and Choi Soon-sil with an aim to receive support for his succession by embezzling corporate funds," the special prosecutor told a televised news conference, using the Samsung chief's Korean name.
The conclusion paves the way for state prosecutors to investigate Park if she is removed from office by the Constitutional Court which is reviewing her impeachment in December, 2016.
TRT World spoke with journalist Joseph Kim, who has more on the issue from Seoul.
Park’s lawyer and Samsung deny charges
Park's lawyer on Monday said that the special prosecutor's charge against the president was "an absurd fiction, far from truth."
She did not receive illicit favours from Samsung, her lawyer added.
The Samsung group also denied the charge, saying, "Future court proceedings will reveal the truth."
The group, South Korea biggest conglomerate, reiterated that it did not pay bribes or make improper requests seeking favours.
Samsung Chief Jay Y Lee and four other executives were last week charged with bribery and embezzlement over the corruption scandal.
Court to rule on Park’s impeachment this month
South Korea's parliament impeached Park in December over accusations that she had colluded with her long-time friend Choi to pressure big businesses to donate to two foundations set up to back the president's policy initiatives.
The Constitutional Court is expected to rule this month on whether to uphold the impeachment.
Should it so do, Park will become the country's first democratically elected president to be removed from office.