By Ju-min Park
SEOUL South Korean prosecutors detained a former presidential aide late on Wednesday, Yonhap News Agency reported early on Thursday, the second person to be held in an influence peddling scandal that has rocked the country's presidency.Prosecutors have said they are looking into allegations that the former senior advisor, Ahn Jong-beom, and a long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye forced South Korean conglomerates to donate funds to non-profit foundations using their connections with the president.Ahn, 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.
Prosecutors and Ahn's lawyer were not immediately available for comment early on Thursday. Ahn 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 centre 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. (Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Tony Munroe and Jonathan Oatis)
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