Lee Myung-bak is the latest former South-Korean President to be convicted of multiple corruption charges. The court in the capital have announced the verdict which fines Lee $11.5m and passes a sentence of 15 years in prison
Lee was president from 2008 to 2013 and was arrested in March on bribery, embezzlement, and abuse of power charges.
Lee was sentenced in absentia in a trial that was broadcast. His absence was due to a protest of the decision to broadcast live according to Yonhap news agency.
AFP news agency reported Lee’s absence was due to ill health.
DETAILS OF CHARGES
During the televised trial, the Seoul District Court ruled that the 76-year-old is the de facto owner of his brother’s company, DAS, which is at the center of the corruption investigation.
‘Such actions from the president, the head of state and the leader of the executive branch, can be severely condemned as it does not stop at violating the fairness and integrity of the presidential office, but undermines trust in the entire public office,’ said judge Chung Kye-sun.
‘Bringing everything into consideration, heavy punishment for the accused is inevitable.’
Earlier, prosecutors demanded a 20-year sentence for Lee, who was also found guilty of having accepted a payment of $5.85m from Samsung Electronics for a US lawsuit involving DAS.
The court said Samsung paid Lee the retainer in an attempt to secure clemency for a tax evasion probe against its chairman Lee Kun-hee, and a subsequent presidential pardon for the executive.
Lee’s successor Park Geun-hye is currently serving a 25-year jail sentence after being removed from office and charged with bribery, coercion, and abuse of power, among other offences in 2017. The scandal fed concerns over cozy ties between the government and business.
Following Park’s impeachment, incumbent President Moon Jae-in embarked on an anti-corruption crackdown, which has seen several business and political figures implicated.