China / World

'Female Rasputin' jailed for three years

(China Daily) Updated: 2017-06-24 07:46

SEOUL - The friend of former South Korean president Park Geun-hye, who was at the center of an influence-peddling scandal that rocked the country's business and political elite, has been sentenced to three years in jail, Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.

The court decision was the first ruling against Choi Soon-sil, a longtime confidante of Park's who was dubbed a "female Rasputin" by local media.

Park has been arrested and is being held in jail over the corruption scandal that ended her administration.

Prosecutors had demanded a seven-year jail term for Choi on charges of obstruction of business and links to Park in order to force a university to give her daughter preferential treatment.

In the sentencing ruling, the Seoul Central District Court said it "accepts the evidence that Choi conspired with school officials."

"Choi violated laws and proper procedures to benefit her daughter," the court said.

Choi also faces separate charges, which have yet to be heard, of extortion, abuse of power and attempted fraud to extort bribes from business conglomerates.

She and Park have denied all charges.

Prosecutors accused Choi of facilitating her daughter's admission to the prestigious Ewha Women's University and conspiring with the faculty there to have her daughter's academic records altered despite poor class attendance and plagiarized reports.

The court also sentenced the president of the university to two years in prison.

Choi's 20-year-old daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, an Asian Games equestrian gold medalist, fled to Europe last year. She returned to South Korea this month and claimed that she wanted to clear up any misunderstandings.

Her entrance to the university and her high school diploma were canceled after authorities found her high school attendance and test grades had been forged.

Prosecutors have twice sought an arrest warrant for Chung, alleging that Samsung Electronics had provided her with financial assistance to sponsor her equestrian training.

Reuters - Xinhua - AP

'Female Rasputin' jailed for three years

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