The Seoul Central District Court ruled this afternoon that Choi Soon-sil will have to serve 20 years in prison, pay 17 million dollars' worth of fines and forfeit almost 7 million dollars more. The announcement came around 4:30, over two hours past the scheduled time.
Choi's sentence is five years shorter than what was demanded by state prosecutors, but it's the heaviest sentence among the people involved in the corruption scandal.
Choi is a long-time confidante of former President Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office last year for corruption.
She's accused of meddling in state affairs even though she held no official post in the Park administration, and was charged with 18 counts of corruption.
The court also acknowledged as bribes the money she coerced businesses into paying to two non-profit organizations she controlled.
Choi's sentencing, not open to the public, could provide hints about the sentencing of Park Geun-hye, which is scheduled for late March.
Also out today a ruling on Ahn Chong-bum, the former senior presidential secretary for policy coordination under Park, who was involved in Choi's influence peddling. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison, a little longer than was expected, with a fine of 92 thousand dollars.
In the case of Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin, he was charged with paying Choi more than 6 million dollars in bribes plus donations by his company to her foundations. He was sentenced to 2-and-a-half years in prison and was taken into custody immediately in court.
As for the former senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, Woo Byung-woo -- his sentencing, originally planned for Wednesday, has been postponed to next Thursday to allow more time for reviewing documents. He is charged with concealing the corruption scandal.
Lee Jeong-yeon, Arirang News