Prosecutors have filed for warrants to arrest two former top secretaries of ousted President Park Geun-hye on bribery and other charges, the Seoul prosecution said Thursday.
Ahn Bong-geun and Lee Jae-man are accused of taking at least 4 billion won (US$3.58 million) in kickbacks from National Intelligence Service (NIS) officials from 2013 until July last year, when the massive influence-peddling scandal involving Park began to surface, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said. They were detained Tuesday.
Prosecutors have also charged them with a count of loss of state funds, since they were paid with the spy agency's expenses.
Ahn held two positions at Cheong Wa Dae as a private secretary to the president from 2013-2015 and communications secretary for state affairs until 2016. Lee served as the secretary for general affairs from 2013-2016.
Prosecutors believe they were given about 100 million won in cash every month over the cited period, and Ahn took at least another 10 million won aside from the alleged 4 billion-won graft.
The prosecution is also looking into allegations that they each purchased an apartment in the affluent southern district of Gangnam with the bribes.
Ahn and Lee have apparently admitted to having received such money but strongly denied they took it personally and insisted it was for state management.
Ahn and Lee, along with now-jailed former secretary Jeong Ho-seong, have been dubbed by media as the "doorknob trio," figuratively describing their power and close relationship with Park. Everything had to pass through them first to reach her, reports say.
An arraignment hearing for the two former officials is expected to be held in the afternoon.