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Cheil Worldwide raided by prosecutors in Korea for involvement in political scandal

The ongoing corruption scandal involving South Korea’s president Park Geun-hye has deepened once again this week.

Earlier on Tuesday, prosecutors raided the sports business unit of South Korean advertising company Cheil Worldwide, over its involvement with Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of the country’s president. A spokeswoman for Cheil, which is the advertising division of South Korea’s largest business group Samsung, has confirmed to Adage that authorities had indeed raided the agency’s office located in Samsung group’s headquarters in southern Seoul.

Authorities have confiscated computer hard drives, accounting books and other documents for further investigations, said another news outlet Yonhap News. This was the second raid in a month at Samsung’s head office. The first, which happened in the early November, was also as part of the same probe and it marked the first time in eight years that Samsung’s main office was searched by authorities.

Marketing has also reached out to Cheil for comments.

Choi is currently in custody over suspicions of her huge influence as well as, amassing profits by using her close friendship with Park. According to Yonhap News, prosecutors are suspecting that the advertising company gave business favors to Choi. They are also investigating whether it was involved in the group handing over US$3 million to a German-based company owned by Choi and her daughter Chung Yoo-ra, to fund Chung’s equestrian training.

The latest news also comes just two days after the prosecution called in Lee Jae-yong, Samsung Electronics’s vice chairman, also the heir apparent of the family-run group – for questioning over cash donations to two non-profit foundations allegedly set up and controlled by Choi.

Over the weekend, hundreds of thousands of protesters in Seoul demanded Park’s resignation. It’s also not surprising that the growing scandal has shaken Park presidency, with her approval ranging plunging to a record-low level.

Park has reportedly appointed a legal counsel to assist her in what will be the first prosecutorial questioning of a sitting South Korean president in the country’s history. She is South Korea’s first female president and the daughter of the country’s president Park Chung-hee, who was assassinated by his own security chief in 1979.

It has been a tumultuous period for Samsung Electronics. The company announced last month, it’s discontinuing the embattled Galaxy Note 7 smartphone. It is probably still reeling from a later recall of its 2.8 million units of washing machine and also, billions of dollars being wiped off from its market value since the first recent recall.

To do some brand-damage control, it also took out full page apology advertisements earlier this month, in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and The Washington Post.

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