Former South Korean President Lee faces further bribery allegations

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (2nd from L) leaves the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in Seoul, South Korea, on 15 March 2018, after more than 21 hours of questioning over multiple corruption allegations. Photo by Yonhap.

SEOUL, March 19 (UPI) —┬áSouth Korea’s former President Lee Myung-bak has been hit with additional bribery allegations, as the prosecution considers whether to seek an arrest warrant to proceed with the investigation.

According to prosecutors on Sunday, Lee was asked during a questioning session last Wednesday whether he took bribes from a prominent Buddhist monk ahead of the 2007 presidential election in which he was a contender.

Investigators believe the former president received around $186,600 from Ji Kwang, a monk in charge of one of Korea’s biggest monasteries, in return for “accommodating the establishment of a Buddhist university,” JoongAng Ilbo reported.

Both the monk and a former presidential aide to Lee are said to have confirmed the allegation through their testimonies, however, the former leader has denied any knowledge of the affair.

Lee faces some 20 charges of bribery, embezzlement and abuse-of-power during his five-year term in office. He is accused of having received about $10 million in kickbacks, including $5.6 million from Samsung Electronics to cover legal fees for an auto company called DAS which he is suspected of owning and controlling.

As he denied most charges against him during a questioning session last week, prosecutors have reportedly said they will inevitably have to seek an arrest warrant, Chosun Ilbo reported.

Prosecutor General Moon Moo-il said Monday morning that he is considering requesting a permit for Lee’s arrest. The decision is expected to be made within the week.


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