Court sentences former President Lee to 15 years in jail on corruption charges

SEOUL, Oct. 5 (Yonhap) — A Seoul court sentenced former President Lee Myung-bak to 15 years in jail and fined him 13 billion won (US$11.5 million) on multiple corruption charges Friday, making him the fourth ex-South Korean leader to be criminally convicted.

In the live televised trial, the court ruled Lee, 76, is the de facto owner of his brother’s company, DAS, which is at the center of the the scandal. The court said he told DAS officials to create slush funds and are responsible for a range of irregularities involving the company. Lee has long been suspected of being its real owner.

Lee, president from 2008-2013, was indicted in April on 16 counts that include bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power. Prosecutors had demanded 20 years in prison for Lee.

The court also found Lee guilty of accepting Samsung Electronics Co.’s $5.85 million payment on his behalf for a U.S. lawsuit DAS had been involved.

The court acknowledged that Samsung paid the retainer for Lee, seeking clemency for a tax evasion probe against its chairman, Lee Kun-hee, and given the subsequent presidential pardon of Lee.

Of the 35 billion won prosecutors alleged Lee had embezzled, the court only acknowledged 24 billion won, citing a lack of evidence.

Lee was not present at Friday’s hearing in protest at the court’s decision to allow live TV coverage of the hearing.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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