Published: Wed, March 14, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Ex-S.Korean president questioned over corruption charges

Ex-S.Korean president questioned over corruption charges

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was questioned Wednesday over allegations of taking 11 billion won ($10.3 million) in bribes from corporations and institutions, including Samsung, Hyundai Motor, and the country's spy agency.

"I stand before you today with a tragic heart". Most of all, I am sorry to the Korean citizens for causing concerns over matters related to me while the public livelihood is hard and the security environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula is very grave. "I am very sorry for causing worry for the people".

"As a former president, I have a lot to say about this but I will spare my words", he said. I hope this would be the last such trouble in our history.

Lee is now the fifth former South Korean president to be investigated by the prosecution. Hi Mark, the former president left his home at around 9:15 AM in a black vehicle with heavily tinted windows, making the relatively short trip to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office.

Among the allegations, Lee is suspected of having Samsung Electronics shoulder lawsuit fees of about 6 billion won, or more than 5 million dollars, for an auto parts company he effectively controlled. For lunch he had ox bone soup delivered, according to the prosecution.

//// The interrogation started before 10 a.m. and ran through 1 p.m. Roh was a close friend of current President Moon Jae-in, who supported Roh at the time.

While it is typical practice to end a prosecutorial probe as late as midnight, some expect Lee's questioning to continue to the next day, given the large number of allegations against him. Before his questioning began, Lee stood before throngs of reporters and apologized to the public for causing concern.

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Prosecutors reportedly planned to seek an arrest warrant for Lee as early as this week.

Prosecutors will also question him on whether he owns DAS.

In return for the legal fee offer, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee is believed to have bought a presidential pardon in 2009 when the Samsung chairman, now in hospital, had got a suspended jail sentence for tax evasion. Should he be arrested, he would be the second former president behind bars on corruption charges.

Lee's summons comes a year after former President Park Geun-hye was grilled over allegations of bribery and abuse of power. "It is sad that the figures who had led this country were actually at the forefront of irregularities", Choi Yoon-hee, a 26-year-old office worker, told The Korea Herald as she passed by the prosecutor's office in Seoul.

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. The drive from Lee's residence to the Prosecutors' Office is around kilometers and it took them just eight minutes to arrive thanks to the traffic controls and police escort. "They should do their best to get rid of the wrongdoings of the past", the man in his 40s said. Lee has denied all charges levied on him.

Kim In-kyung has more.

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