Ex-President Lee Faces Questioning in Corruption Probe

Ex-President Lee Faces Questioning in Corruption Probe

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 here today feeling wretched". "I stand here with a heavy heart", Lee said as he arrived at the prosecutors' office in Seoul, after a auto journey from his home in the south of the capital covered live on television.

"For those who trust and support me, and those who are suffering from the issues raised, I sincerely apologize".

"I have much to say as a former president but I promised myself to save my words". "All I wish for is that this will be the last time in history" that a former president is being investigated.

From L to R, this composite photo filed March 13, 2018, shows former South Korean presidents who faced prosecution investigations over corruption and other charges: Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Moo-hyun and Park Geun-hye.

The investigation into Lee means all four living former South Korean presidents have been convicted, charged, or embroiled in criminal inquiries.

He stands accused of almost 20 criminal allegations, including receiving illicit funds of some 11.1 billion won ($10.4 million) from the state spy agency, individuals and businesses, including Samsung.

Lee is also suspected of dodging taxes through accounting fraud in the DAS and by owning real estate assets and bank deposits under borrowed names.

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When asked by a reporter if he accepted the allegations against him, Lee did not respond. For lunch he had ox bone soup delivered, according to the prosecution.

Lee has said in January that investigations into alleged corruption in his administration are political payback to hold him accountable for the suicide of his predecessor, Roh Moo-hyun.

The former president and his legal team have been preparing for the interrogation which is likely to run into the night as he faces some 20 charges, Chosun Ilbo reported.

Prosecutors raided the offices and homes of Lee's relatives and aides, many of whom were summoned for grilling.

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.

The former president is expected to deny any knowledge of the transactions.

Park was arrested in late March past year upon her ousting from office and indicted for conspiring with her friend Choi Soon-sil to extort 59.2 billion won (US$52 million) from dozens of large conglomerates including Samsung.

The ousted president is also accused of letting Choi, who has no title or security clearance, handle state affairs including cabinet nominations and policy and even her daily wardrobe choice. "They should do their best to get rid of the wrongdoings of the past", the man in his 40s said.

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