Another South Korean leader questioned in corruption probe

  • Another South Korean leader questioned in corruption probe

Another South Korean leader questioned in corruption probe

Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak appeared for questioning on Wednesday over allegations he took bribes when he was in office, following months of investigations into his family and acquaintances over the graft charges.

Lee, 76, said he was sorry for "causing concern" as he stood before a bustling crowd of journalists outside the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office, according to Yonhap News Agency.

"For those who trust and support me, and those who are suffering from the issues raised, I sincerely apologize".

Almost all former presidents in South Korea, their family members and key aides were embroiled in scandals either just before they ended their terms or after they left office. Earlier this month, the prosecution demanded a 30-year prison term for Park.

He stands accused of almost 20 criminal allegations, including receiving illicit funds of some 11.1 billion won ($10.4 million) from the state spy agency, individuals and businesses, including Samsung. The questioning resumed at 2 p.m.

Lee says the investigation is politically motivated. Lee's brother is the largest shareholder in DAS, but prosecutors believe Lee actually owns the company.

With Lee condemning the accusations against him as political retaliation, the questioning session was expected to continue into the night. Lee's vehicle pulled up to the prosecutors' building on Wednesday.

Public response appears disappointed to find yet another former president investigated for corruption.

Lee, accompanied by his defense lawyer, was received by a senior prosecutor and given tea before being ushered into room 1001, the same place his successor, ousted former President Park Geun-hye, underwent marathon questioning. "It is sad that the figures who had led this country were actually at the forefront of irregularities", Choi Yoon-hee, a 26-year-old office worker, told The Korea Herald as she passed by the prosecutor's office in Seoul.

Park Geun-hye, Lee's successor, was ousted from office past year, standing trial on charges of bribery and abuse of power. She was arrested 10 days later. Lee's been firmly denying all charges against him and many see his short remark before the press on Wednesday morning as a direct criticism of the current administration's efforts to eradicate what is being called 'wrongdoings of the past'.

Lee, who was president from 2008 to 2013, has previously denounced the inquiry as "political revenge" and said Wednesday he hoped it would be the "last time in history" that a former South Korean head of state was summoned for questioning by prosecutors.