16 March 2018

Former South Korean president Lee Myung Bak admitted to receiving US$100,000 from the National Intelligence Service (NIS) while still in office, reports said on Thursday (15 March), after he faced 21 hours of interrogation by prosecutors over corruption allegations.

Yonhap news agency quoting the prosecutor said: “President Lee denied most of the charges.” The allegations against Lee include that he gave a presidential pardon in 2009 for Samsung chairman Lee Kun Hee, who had been convicted of tax evasion and given a suspended jail sentence.

Lee denied owning DAS, an auto parts company he is said to own under the names of his relatives, and embezzling millions of dollars from it, under questioning on Wednesday, the prosecution official told Yonhap.

Mr Lee’s successor, former conservative president Park Geun Hye, was impeached last year for an influence-peddling scandal involving her friend Choi Soon Sil. Lee’s predecessor, the liberal Roh Moo Hyun, committed suicide by jumping off a cliff after being questioned over corruption allegations in 2009.

Lee has become the fifth former president to be questioned by prosecutors after his retirement following former presidents Roh Tae-woo, Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Moo-hyun and Park Geun-hye. The probe means that all four of the living former South Korean presidents have been convicted, charged, or investigated for criminal offences.

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