S. Korean prosecutors to summon Lotte chief for alleged involvement in corruption scandal

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-06 18:53
SEOUL -- South Korean prosecutors planned to summon the Lotte Group chief Friday for his alleged involvement in a corruption scandal embroiling former President Park Geun-hye that led to her impeachment and arrest.

The special investigation headquarters of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said on Thursday that Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin will be called in as a reference witness by 9:30 a.m. local time on Friday.

Lotte, the country's fifth-biggest family-controlled conglomerate, was among scores of chaebols donating tens of millions of US dollars to two nonprofit foundations controlled by Choi Soon-sil, Park's decades-long friend who is at the center of the influence-peddling scandal.

Prosecutors are forecast to question the Lotte chief over whether there was any quid pro quo in its donations to the Choi-controlled foundations.

Lotte lost one of its licenses to operate duty free shops in downtown Seoul in November 2015, but it regained a license about a year later. Chairman Shin met face-to-face with former Park in early 2016.

There are suspicions that Lotte may have regained the duty free shop license in exchange for its contributions to the Choi-controlled foundations.

Lotte made additional contributions to one of the two foundations in May last year, but it was returned back just a day before prosecutors' raid into Lotte headquarters in June for charges of embezzlement and breach of duty.

An arrest warrant for Shin was rejected by a Seoul court on Sept. 29, 2016. The rejection came just a day before the announcement to change the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) deployment site into a Lotte-owned golf course in southeastern South Korea.

The land swap deal between Lotte and the defense ministry was signed on Feb. 28, speeding up the deployment procedures. In early March, two mobile launchers and other first elements of THAAD were delivered at night to an unknown U.S. military base here.
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