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SoKor ex-leader’s pal jailed

SEOUL (Reuters) – The friend of former South Korean leader 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, the Yonhap news agency reported on Friday.

Prosecutors had demanded a seven-year jail term for Choi Soon-sil on charges of obstruction of business and links to the former president in order to force a university to give her daughter favors.

Choi is also being tried alongside her former confidante, impeached president Park Geun-hye, over claims they forced top companies including Samsung to “donate” tens of millions to foundations Choi controlled. Choi could face decades in jail if convicted on the charges of extortion and abuse of power.

Samsung’s heir Lee Jae-yong, who has also been arrested and is currently on trial, has denied asking for policy favors when he met Park, arguing that Samsung was a victim of blackmail by the ex-president and Choi.

Choi – dubbed a “female Rasputin” by the local media – wielded huge influence over the then-president and was a key figure in the influence-peddling scandal that sparked huge street protests that led to Park’s ousting.