French ex-minister suspected of taking advantage of office

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Paris (AFP)

France's former culture minister Fleur Pellerin is suspected of having improperly taken advantage of ties she developed with a South Korean web giant she dealt with while in office, an official report found Wednesday.

The High Authority for Transparency in Public Life (HATVP) said Pellerin had "taken on as a client a private company with which she concluded a contract or an opinion on a contract," as a minister.

Pellerin had established links with one of South Korea's leading internet providers, NAVER Corp., while she was a a minister from August 2014 to February 2016 under President Francois Hollande.

The authority's report, published in the official gazette, has been handed to the Paris prosecutor's office which will decide whether to open an investigation.

After leaving office Pellerin set up an investment firm called Korelya Consulting and from September 2016 managed the company that was "fully backed by NAVER Corp." of South Korea, the authority said.

Korelya raised a total of 200 million euros from NAVER between 2016-2017, according to media reports.

Born in Korea and adopted by French parents at the age of six months, Pellerin became something of a celebrity in parts of Asia as she rose through the ranks of the socialist government in Paris.

She was a junior minister in charge of the digital economy and innovation before being named state secretary for foreign trade in 2014.