South Korea president's friend denies knowledge of Samsung's 2015 merger plan

Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the centre of the South Korean political scandal and long-time friend of President Park Geun-hye, appears for her first trial at the Seoul Central District Court on January 5, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. REUTERS/Chung Sung-Jun/Pool

SEOUL (Reuters) - The friend at the center of a corruption scandal engulfing South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s administration, said on Monday she had no prior knowledge of Samsung Group’s plans for a controversial 2015 merger of two affiliates.

“Even if I knew, I could not have passed on any information because I have no knowledge about mergers or hedge funds, anything like that, in the first place,” the friend, Choi Soon-sil, told a public hearing at South Korea’s Constitutional Court on Monday.

South Korea’s Constitutional Court began hearing arguments this month on whether to uphold parliament’s vote last month to impeach President Park.

Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore