SKorean pension chief becomes latest scandal detainee

Former welfare minister Moon Hyung-pyo placed under emergency detention by investigators probing widening corruption claims

SKorean pension chief becomes latest scandal detainee

World Bulletin / News Desk

The list of high-profile figures being detained over South Korea’s presidential office scandal grew even longer Wednesday, as pension chief Moon Hyung-pyo was detained on an emergency basis.

Investigators must seek an arrest warrant by Friday if they want to keep Moon in custody over suspicions surrounding the National Pension Service’s (NPS) backing for a contentious merger of Samsung Group affiliates last year -- a stakeholder in both companies, the NPS did not follow the expected path of seeking advice from an independent panel.

It ties in with wider allegations that led to the Dec. 9 impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and the arrest of her now notorious private confidante Choi Soon-sil, whose equestrian athlete daughter was supported by Samsung.

The iconic Korean conglomerate was, moreover, the biggest donor to a pair of nonprofit foundations linked to Choi.

Local media reported late Tuesday that a former head of the NPS asset management division admitted during questioning by investigators that the welfare ministry -- then led by Moon Hyung-pyo -- pressured the fund to back the 2015 Samsung merger, helping to ease the group’s family power transition despite opposition from shareholders such as American hedge fund Elliott Associates.

Meanwhile, the special investigation team continued to examine claims that the Park administration created a blacklist targeting anti-government artists.

Kim Sang-yule, previously a presidential secretary for education and culture, was questioned Wednesday, hours after ex-Vice Culture Minister Chung Kwan-joo -- to further complicate the web of connections, Kim is the uncle of arrested Choi associate Cha Eun-taek.

Another former vice culture minister, Kim Chong, is also under arrest along with more ex-presidential secretaries as the probe team builds a fuller picture of alleged power abuse and influence-peddling at the highest levels of state affairs.

The special investigation officially took over from regular prosecutors last week, and is running alongside separate legal proceedings -- including the Constitutional Court case deciding whether to confirm or overturn the president’s parliamentary impeachment.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 28 Aralık 2016, 09:02