Prosecutors arrest lawyer involved in lobbying scandal

Hannah Kim, May 13, 2016, 10:37 a.m.

The prosecution has arrested a judge-turned-lawyer who allegedly received billions of won in legal fees in return for lobbying judges and prosecutors for her high-profile clients, officials said Friday. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said they arrested 46-year-old former chief prosecutor Choi Yoo-jeong late Thursday night for attempting to influence rulings of clients. 

Choi is accused of taking a total of about 10 billion won ($8.6 million) from two clients -- cosmetics firm Nature Republic CEO Jung Woon-ho and an investment firm owner surnamed Song. Jung was accused of gambling while Song was accused of fraud.

Choi allegedly promised to help lessen their punishments by using her connections in legal circles as a former judge.

Choi had reportedly asked a chief prosecutor to cut Jung’s penalty. In the appeals case, the prosecution had sought a 2 1/2-year jail term, which was four months shorter than what it had previously sought in the first trial.

Her attempt to cut Jung’s sentencing, however, fell through and Choi reportedly returned 3 billion won. The case was brought to light after Jung and Choi had a spat over the failed attempt.

For Song, who was facing investment fraud charges, Choi had also reportedly called her former colleagues. However, he was sentenced to a 13-year jail term last month. 

In another fraud case in which Song was involved last year, his penalty was lessened from a four-year prison term to a three-year jail term with five years of probation when Choi served as his attorney in the appeals case. 

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