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S. Korea: Ex-President Lee arrested for corruption

March 22, 2018

Prosecutors have accused the former president of taking bribes from business groups and his own intelligence agency. In one instance, Samsung Group allegedly bought a presidential pardon for a business leader.

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak
Image: picture-alliance/MAXPPP/Kyodo

South Korean authorities on Thursday arrested former President Lee Myung-bak after a court issued an arrest warrant over corruption.

Prosecutors have accused Lee of taking bribes from an intelligence agency and business groups amounting to a total of 11 billion won (€8.1 million, $10 million). Lee served as South Korea's president from 2008 to 2013.

Prosecutors have alleged that the Samsung Group bought a presidential pardon in 2009 for its chairman Lee Kun-hee, who had been convicted for tax evasion. However, the Samsung leader received a suspended sentence.

He also stands accused of tax evasion and other crimes, including using a private company to create illicit slush funds amounting to 35 billion won. The arrest warrant effectively allows authorities to detain him for up to 20 days before charging him.

History of jailed presidents

South Korea's former President Park Geun Hye accompanied by police
South Korea's former President Park Geun Hye remains in jail pending a verdictImage: picture alliance/AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon

Lee is the fourth South Korean president to be arrested. Last year, South Korea's Constitutional Court forced then-President Park Geun-Hye to step down from office following impeachment proceedings. Weeks later, she was arrested on corruption charges.

Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, former army generals who served as president, were jailed in the 1990s on corruption charges. Both were involved in the 1979 military coup and 1980 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

ls/kl (AFP, dpa, AP)

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