Former South Korean President Indicted For Bribery

She was also indicted for leaking government secrets obtained in the line of duty by ordering her secretary, Jeong Ho-seong, to offer information to Choi. Woo is charged with condoning Choi's meddling in state affairs and abusing his authority to wield undue influence under the Park administration.

Shin and other members of the family behind Lotte are already on trial in a separate corruption case involving the company.

Her indictment comes as the country kicks off official campaigning for May 9 presidential elections to choose her successor.

As well as claims she and her friend Choi Soon-sil coerced conglomerates into donating 77.4 billion won ($68 million) to two nonprofit foundations, Park is also accused of soliciting bribes from the Lotte and SK groups. She was impeached late previous year, officially stripped of power in March and has been in a detention facility near Seoul since being arrested last month on allegations that she colluded with a confidante to extort money from businesses, take bribes and commit other wrongdoing.

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Park is also accused of offering policy favors to top businessmen who enriched Choi, including Samsung heir Lee Jae Yong, who was arrested earlier and is also on trial for bribery. The New York Times reports the criminal charges, which totaled 13 when she was taken into custody, now number up to 18. It was recently reported that Lee had lost his seat in the board of directors of Exor, an investment company that is now the major holder of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, due to his involvement in the scandal. As attempts by the independent counsel and prosecution to arrest Woo have failed to be approved by a local court, Woo will go through his trial without pretrial detention. Park, in particular, has been charged with forcing companies to sign contracts beneficial for Choi and her associates.

SK Chairman Chey Tae-won was not indicted but Lotte Chairman Shin was.

If convicted, her bribery charge carries the biggest punishment, ranging from 10 years in prison to life imprisonment.

Lotte, South Korea's fifth-biggest conglomerate, is grappling with the Chinese shutdown of dozens of its stores in China after it agreed to provide land for the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system outside Seoul.

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