South Korean prosecutors have detained a former presidential aide, Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday, the second person to be held in an influence-peddling scandal that has rocked the country’s presidency.
Prosecutors are looking into allegations that the former senior advisor, An Chong-bum, and a longtime friend of President Park Geun-hye forced South Korean conglomerates to donate funds to nonprofit foundations using their connections with the president.
An, who was a senior presidential advisor in policy coordination until he stepped down late last month amid the growing political crisis, told reporters outside prosecution offices on Wednesday afternoon that he would take responsibility for his actions but declined to elaborate.
An was placed under emergency detention, Yonhap and other South Korean media reported, citing prosecutors, who under South Korean law have 48 hours to seek an arrest warrant from a court.
On Wednesday, Park replaced her prime minister and finance minister, a reshuffle denounced by political opponents as a bid to divert attention from a crisis that has pushed her approval rating to an all-time low.
Members of opposition parties have called for prosecutors to investigate Park.
Prosecutors on Wednesday asked a court for a warrant to arrest Choi Soon-sil, Park’s old friend at the center of the scandal, and are seeking to charge her with abuse of power and attempted fraud, court and prosecution officials said. Choi was detained late on Monday.
Choi told South Korea’s Segye Ilbo newspaper last week that she received drafts of Park’s speeches after Park’s election victory but denied she had access to other official material, influenced state affairs or benefited financially.