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South Korea inspectors raid major pension fund office linked to fraud scandal



South Korean inspectors have raided the National Pension Service (NPS) office as part of a probe into a high-profile fraud scandal that has prompted the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.

The raid was conducted against what has been described as the world’s third-largest pension fund on Wednesday. It was part of a bid by a special prosecutor looking into the scandal to investigate the NPS’s decision in 2015 to endorse the eight-billion-dollar merger of two Samsung Group affiliates, according to an official with the special prosecutor’s office.

The special prosecutor is investigating whether Samsung bribed Park’s confidant Choi Soon-sil to win the NPS’s approval for the merger.

Choi is in custody and on trial for fraud and abuse of power in a massive influence-peddling scandal.

Also on Wednesday, South Korean prosecutors raided an office at the Ministry of Health and Welfare, which administers the NPS.

A spokeswoman for the ministry confirmed that special prosecution authorities were at the ministry’s pension department and were “looking at a broad range of material.”

Last month, a different team of prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung and the NPS.

South Korean lawmakers voted on December 9 to impeach Park, a measure that requires confirmation by the Constitutional Court, which has 180 days to announce its judgment.

This file photo, taken on November 29, 2016, shows South Korean President Park Geun-hye speaking during an address to the nation at the presidential Blue House in Seoul. (By AFP)

Meanwhile, a South Korean court has issued an arrest warrant for Choi’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra.

The warrant was issued on Wednesday over several charges, including obstruction of justice, a spokesman for the special prosecutor’s office, Lee Kyu-chul, announced.

Lee further said that South Korean legal authorities would seek the assistance of German prosecutors to detain the 20-year-old Chung, who is believed to reside in Germany.

Lee also said that authorities were working to invalidate Chung’s South Korean passport and are seeking information about her whereabouts and financial assets from German prosecutors.

Chung provoked public outrage earlier this year when it was revealed that she had received special treatment from a prestigious and private university in Seoul.

She was also stripped of her high school diploma for fabrication of grades and attendance, according to the Seoul Education Office as cited in local media reports.

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