6 March 2019

A South Korean court on Wednesday approved the release of former President Lee Myung-bak on $885,000 bail. His release was subject to strict monitoring conditions that resemble a house arrest, including a ban on meeting or communicating with people beyond direct family members and lawyers. He was arrested nearly a year ago and is on trial over allegations of bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion. He was accused of taking about $10 million in bribes from Samsung in return for a presidential pardon for its chairman Lee Kun-hee, who was jailed for tax evasion. He also embezzled funds from the spy agency and other institutions. Prosecutors also say Lee embezzled about $30 million in funds from an auto parts company he owned and evaded about $280,000 in corporate taxes.

Before his election as president, he was the CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, as well as the mayor of Seoul from 1 July 2002, to 30 June 2006.

South Korean presidents have a tendency to end up in prison after their time in power, when their political rivals have taken control of the country.

 All four of South Korea’s living presidents have been convicted of criminal offenses.  Lee’s conservative successor, Park Geun-hye, is also serving a lengthy prison term. She was removed from office in 2017 following months of anti-government rallies. Yonhap news agency reported.