Prosecutors question another ex-South Korean leader

Nellie Chapman
March 14, 2018

Lee, who was president from 2008 to 2013, has previously denounced the inquiry as "political revenge" and said Wednesday he hoped it would be the "last time in history" that a former South Korean head of state was summoned for questioning by prosecutors. I have lots to share with people as the country's former president, but I know that I should keep my message short.

Lee has denied any wrongdoing, calling the investigation into the bribery allegations politically motivated by prosecutors under the incumbent liberal administration.

Two of the ex-president's former aides have been arrested and the homes and offices of his brothers raided. I am sorry for causing concern, at a moment when...

Among other suspicions is Samsung's alleged 6 billion-won payment of legal fees owed by DAS to a USA law firm from November 2007 to March 2009, in a suit that sought to recoup DAS' 14 billion-won investment in a US company.

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.

Prosecutors believe the payment by Samsung is an indication that Lee is the real owner of DAS, as the tech giant had no reason to do so unless it was seeking some influence for its business interest.

With Lee condemning the accusations against him as political retaliation, the questioning session was expected to continue into the night. Some of his key aides, including a wealth manager, have been arrested.

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Police dispatched 13 squads of over 1,000 officers to provide security near the prosecution office in Seocho, southern Seoul, and around Lee's residence, about 4.7 kilometers from the prosecution building.

Last month, Seoul prosecutors searched the offices of Samsung Electronics as part of the investigation, the prosecutors' office said.

Conservative Park Geun-hye was ousted last year over a massive corruption scandal that emerged in 2016, and the verdict in her bribery and abuse of power trial is due next month, with prosecutors demanding 30 years in jail.

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.

And Roh Moo-hyun, Lee's immediate predecessor, committed suicide in 2009 after he was questioned in a corruption probe involving his family.

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak arrives at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, in Seoul, South Korea, March 14, 2018.

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