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The friend of former South Korean leader Park Geun-hye who was at the centre of an influence-peddling scandal that rocked the country's business and political elite has been sentenced to 20 years in jail, a Seoul court said on Tuesday.

Choi Soon-sil, a confidante of Park, was convicted of receiving bribes from South Korean conglomerates, including Samsung, the world's biggest maker of smartphones and semiconductors, and the Lotte Group.

Park was dismissed from the presidency last March after being impeached and standing trial separately on charges of bribery, abuse of power and coercion. She denies any wrongdoing.

The court also sentenced the chairman of Lotte, the country's fifth-largest conglomerate, to two years and six months in prison on Tuesday and ordered his immediate arrest.

The chairman, Shin Dong-bin, was in court and taken into custody.

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