The chairman of global steelmaker POSCO said Monday his company's donations in 2015 to two foundations controlled by a friend of former President Park Geun-hye were made under pressure from Park's office.
Kwon Oh-joon, who has been leading the steelmaker from 2014, made the remarks while attending a hearing on Choi Soon-sil, Park's arrested friend, and former presidential secretary An Chong-bum as a witness at the Seoul Central District Court.
Choi and An have been put on trial over suspicions they pressured local business groups into giving large sums of money to culture foundation Mir and the K-Sports Foundation two years ago.
"I agreed to the purpose of setting up the foundations, but I have to say (the contributions) were made under pressure, rather than voluntarily," he told the courtroom.
When asked by prosecutors whether he was worried about a business backlash from a possible refusal of the donation request, Kwon agreed and said that he had "vague anxiety."
"There were no pending issues related to the government, but I was worried about possible disadvantages in the future," said the chairman.
The remarks were made as prosecutors prepare to question Park on Tuesday over suspicions she colluded with Choi and An in the alleged corruption case.
Prosecutors are expected to question Park over whether she pressured the conglomerates to make the contributions and if the donations were made in return for business favors.