Saturday, 17 November, 2018

Former South Korean president Lee appears for questioning over graft charges

Former President Lee Myung-bak speaks after arriving at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors&apos Office for questioning Former President Lee Myung-bak speaks after arriving at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors&apos Office for questioning
Patty Aguilar | 14 March, 2018, 18:41

Former President Lee Myung-bak showed up for questioning at 9:22 a.m. on Wednesday at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. "All I wish for is that this will be the last time in history" that a former president is being investigated.

DAS is under investigation for embezzlement and creating a slush fund, which is believed to have been funneled into Lee for his presidential campaign.

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday appeared before state prosecutors for questioning over a string of corruption charges including bribery, becoming the latest South Korean leader to be investigated.

The move came about two weeks after prosecutors demanded a 30-year prison term for Lee's conservative successor, Park Geun-hye, over a separate bribery scandal that led to weeks of massive anti-government protests.

Prosecutors allege that Lee took other illicit money from business groups including Samsung and a former lawmaker.

During the interrogation, the prosecutors also asked Lee whether his son-in-law, an executive at Samsung Electronics Co., delivered bribes to Lee's wife, Kim Yoon-ok, but Lee reportedly denied the involvement of the former first lady.

"I'm sorry to have caused troubles amid the economic difficulties and the grave security situation, and I send my apologies to my supporters and to people experiencing difficulties".

"As a former president, I have many things I want to say, but I promised to myself that I must save my breath", he said.

Wednesday's interrogation of Lee comes 358 days after ousted President Park appeared at the prosecution's office to be questioned on March 21 a year ago.

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Lee previously labeled the prosecution's investigation as an act of "political revenge" by the liberal Moon Jae-in administration, maintaining his innocence.

Samsung reportedly paid six billion won ($5.6 million) in legal fees to a USA law firm on the former president's behalf.

Lee's brother is the largest shareholder in DAS, but prosecutors believe Lee actually owns the company.

"It would be a shame if the prosecution fails to prove Lee's wrongdoings".

It is widely expected that prosecutors will seek an arrest warrant for Lee when they finish questioning him.

Before he entered the prosecutors' office, Lee announced to reporters that he is in a "position of awful discomfort today".

Park's successors Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, both former army generals, spent time in jail after leaving office for bribery, treason and other charges.

Lee also referred to the 2009 suicide of ex-liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, who leapt to his death amid a high-profile corruption investigation of his family when Lee was president.

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