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South Korean Ex-President Faces Interrogation Over Corruption Charges

South Korean Ex-President Faces Interrogation Over Corruption Charges

Prosecutors allege that Lee took other illicit money from business groups including Samsung and a former lawmaker. He also rebutted allegations that state agencies, including the presidential office, helped a DAS lawsuit and moved state documents to DAS' warehouse. "And he's saying even if such things had happened, they would have been done by working level employees". Before entering the prosecution building, the former president stopped in front of hundreds of press members to deliver a brief message to the nation.

While it is typical practice to end a prosecutorial probe as late as midnight, some expect Lee's questioning to continue to the next day, given the large number of allegations against him.

The former president was in office from 2008 to 2013 before his successor, Park, won her presidency.

Both Samsung and Lee have denied the allegations as groundless.

Lee arrived at Seoul District Prosecutors' Office around 9:30 a.m., the Hankyoreh reported. "I am deeply sorry for causing concern to public", he said, while offering hope that he will be "the last former president" to face a criminal probe. "I offer my honest apology to the people of our country for troubling them amid the economic hardship and a serious security crisis on the peninsula".

"As a former president, there are many things I want to say but I have chose to spare my words". In history, this should be the last such trouble.

Samsung reportedly paid six billion won ($5.6 million) in legal fees to a U.S. law firm on the former president's behalf.

Prosecutors believe the payment by Samsung is an indication that Lee is the real owner of DAS, as the tech giant had no reason to do so unless it was seeking some influence for its business interest.

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Lee previously labeled the prosecution's investigation as an act of "political revenge" by the liberal Moon Jae-in administration, maintaining his innocence.

Prosecutors reportedly planned to seek an arrest warrant for Lee as early as this week.

The ex-president rose to political power after a successful career as chief executive of Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co.

Lee Myung-bak is the fifth South Korean president targeted by prosecutors for corruption.

Lee is the fourth former president to appear for questioning as a suspect after former President Roh Tae-woo did so in 1995, Roh Moo-hyun in 2009 and Park Geun-hye previous year.

Two other ex-presidents, Chun Dioo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, were tried and convicted in the 1990s for bribery, treason and other charges for their involvement in a 1979 military coup and each spent two years in prison. The probe was ended after he committed suicide in May of that year.

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is being investigated for allegedly accepting millions of dollars' worth of bribes.