SEOUL – The chairman of the SK Group, South Korea’s third largest conglomerate, was questioned by prosecutors on Saturday as a witness in the massive Rasputin corruption case that led to the impeachment of the country’s president.
Chey Tae-won testified before the investigators on the alleged multi-million donations made by his company to organizations linked to the close friend of Park Geun-hye, Choi Soon-sil, dubbed “Rasputin.”
In exchange for these donations, Chey allegedly obtained a presidential pardon in 2015 for a prior conviction in another embezzlement case, according to the prosecution, which the executive has denied, local agency Yonhap reported.
The interrogation of the SK chairman is part of the prosecution’s efforts to gather evidence on the corruption case, which involves the president, Choi and Lee Jae-yong, the heir of the Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, among other senior executives and government officials.
The former president has been summoned to appear for questioning on March 21 as a suspect in the case after she was stripped of her presidential immunity on March 10, when the Constitutional Court ratified her dismissal on the grounds that she conspired with her friend to extort money from large companies.
Meanwhile, Samsung’s de facto head has been in custody since Feb. 17 and will be tried along with four other senior executives of the company on charges of bribery, embezzlement and concealment of assets abroad.
Up to 53 companies – including other major South Korean companies such as Lotte, LG and Hyundai – are being investigated by the authorities for allegedly making contributions worth 77.4 billion won ($67 million) in the Rasputin case.