5 October 2018
South Korea’s former President Lee Myung-bak was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday in a corruption case.
He was accused of embezzling $21.7 million from a company he owned; taking bribes from Samsung and others. He was fined $11.5 million. Lee committed those crimes before and during his presidency, from 2008 to 2013. He is the fourth former South Korean president to be jailed.
Lee, 76, alleged that the investigation against him was politically motivated “revenge” by current President Moon Jae-in, who has previously criticized Lee over an investigation into another former president, Roh Moo-hyun. Moon served as Roh’s chief of staff, and the two had a close relationship. Roh committed suicide in 2009 after being questioned on corruption allegations during Lee’s presidency. The Asahi Shimbun reported.
Lee’s his successor and fellow conservative Park Geun-hye is currently serving a 25 years prison sentence.
Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, former army generals who served as presidents, served jail terms for corruption and treason after leaving office. Both Chun and Roh received presidential pardons after serving about two years.
Before serving as president, Lee, had been a Seoul mayor. He started at Hyundai Group in the mid-1960s and led the company’s rapid rise at a time when South Korea’s economy grew explosively from the rubble of the 1950-53 Korean War. He rose to be the CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction.