SEOUL: The secret confidante of ousted South Korean president Park Geun-hye was convicted on Tuesday and jailed for 20 years for her key role in the scandal that brought down the head of state. Choi Soon-sil, who became close to Park through her father, a shadowy religious figure, was vilified during the massive nationwide protests that rocked Asia’s fourth-largest economy and culminated in Park’s impeachment last year. The Seoul Central District Court found Choi guilty of abuse of power, bribery and interfering in government business. Judge Kim Se-yoon told a packed courtroom that Choi took advantage of “long private ties” with Park to force companies to donate funds to foundations which she controlled. She accepted a total of 14 billion won ($13 million) from telecommunications giant Samsung and retail conglomerate Lotte, he said, and “meddled in state affairs widely.” Choi had no title or security clearance, but prosecutors said she interfered in a wide range of official issues including the nomination of cabinet members and ambassadors—and in editing many of Park’s speeches.