Ex-S. Korean president Lee Myung-bak indicted over corruption charges

Xinhua
South Korean prosecutors on Monday indicted former president Lee Myung-bak over corruption charges including bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion.
Xinhua

South Korean prosecutors on Monday indicted former president Lee Myung-bak over corruption charges including bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion.

Lee, who ended his single, five-year presidency in early 2013, was taken into custody in March after being questioned over a series of corruption charges, all of which he has denied.

The businessman-turned-politician became the fourth South Korean president to be indicted by prosecutors. Former president Park Geun-hye, Lee's successor, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for corruption charges last week.

Park is the first South Korean leader to be impeached in March last year, before being arrested about a year ago.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said in a statement that it has confirmed that Lee is the real owner of DAS, a local auto parts manufacturer, through investigations for the past three months.

Through the DAS, which Lee allegedly illegally owned under borrowed names, the former leader embezzled about 34.9 billion won (US$32.7 million) and evaded 3.1 billion won in corporate tax by creating slash fund through accounting fraud and using business credit card for personal purpose.

While he was in office for five years to early 2013, Lee instructed senior government officials to actively support the DAS's legal action in the United States.

The former president allegedly took some US$5.85 million in bribes from Samsung Group, the country's biggest family-controlled conglomerate, by making Samsung pay the US retaining fee on the DAS's behalf.

Lee is also believed to have received millions of US dollars in kickback from businessmen and politicians in exchange for political and business favors. The kickback included a special operation fund for the National Intelligence Service, the spy agency of South Korea.

Lee is also accused of illegally leaking and concealing 3,402 classified presidential documents at a building in Seoul, which is believed to be owned by the former president. The leaked documents included major evidences relevant to Lee's illegalities.

The prosecution office said it charged Lee with bribery, tax evasion, embezzlement and abuse of power as well as the violations of laws on the presidential archives management and the political fund.  

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