S.Korea’s pension fund chief indicted in graft probe

Seoul: South Korea’s state-run pension fund chief was indicted on Monday, a special prosecutor’s team said, in a widening probe into an influence-peddling scandal that has led to President Park Geun-hye’s impeachment.

Moon Hyung-pyo, chief of the National Pension Service (NPS), has been charged for abuse of power for allegedly pressuring the state fund to back a major merger deal between Samsung subsidiaries on behalf of the presidential office when he was Health Minister in 2015, Yonhap News Agency reported.

Moon, who served as the minister from December 2013 to August 2015, became the first suspect to be indicted by the special investigation team looking into the scandal. He was formally arrested last month.

There have been suspicions that the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae pressured the state fund — which held an 11.6 per cent stake in Samsung C&T Corp. and a 5 per cent stake in Cheil Industries Inc. — to support the conglomerate in return for favours Samsung gave to Choi Soon-sil, the president’s close friend.

Lee Kyu-chul, the team’s spokesman, earlier said Moon, who had denied exerting influence in the pension fund’s decision at a parliamentary hearing, reversed his statement during the interrogation. He was also charged with perjury.

Investigators are now looking into whether President Park was directly involved in the process, which they think could constitute bribery.