Ex South Korean leader Lee arrested

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak

By Alex Jensen,

Seoul: Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was arrested just before midnight Thursday, after a Seoul court accepted a warrant request by prosecutors who suspect he broke the law on multiple counts, including embezzlement, tax evasion and bribery.


Lee, 76, could be hit with more than a dozen charges related to the period leading up to his 2007 presidential election victory and subsequent years in office.

The ex-CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction is accused of embezzling around 35 billion won ($32.6 million USD) and accepting over 11 billion won ($10.2 million USD) in bribes from large businesses along with South Korea’s state intelligence agency.

Seoul Central District Court approved the prosecution’s arrest warrant request at around 11:00 pm (1400 GMT) because of the gravity of the suspicions and the risk of destroying evidence, according to the local news agency Yonhap.

Lee becomes the fourth former South Korean president to be arrested over corruption suspicions, and he is being detained at the same time as another of the country’s ex-leaders, Park Geun-hye.

Like Park, he could be handed a decades-long prison sentence if found guilty.

Lee already denied most of the charges against him during questioning last week, but he also posted a statement on Facebook concerning his arrest, saying he feels “a sense of guilt.”



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