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Ex-South Korea president 'deceived to the end'

Prosecutors are seeking a 20-year prison term for Lee Myung-bak.

By
Elizabeth Shim
Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has been convicted of embezzling funds during his term of office. File Photo by Yonhap
Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak has been convicted of embezzling funds during his term of office. File Photo by Yonhap

Sept. 6 (UPI) -- South Korean prosecutors are seeking a 20-year prison sentence for Lee Myung-bak, the former president who, according to their assessments, "deceived the South Korean people to the very end," according to court documents.

Lee, who was in office from 2008 to 2013, was indicted on 16 counts of graft ranging from bribery to abuse of presidential power, Yonhap reported Thursday.

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Local newspaper Segye Ilbo reported the former chief executive of Hyundai Engineering and Construction was convicted of taking about $9.9 million in bribes from state agencies and for embezzling about $31 million from DAS between 1994 and 2006.

DAS is the company that funded a Lee-backed enterprise, and is an auto parts company that South Korean prosecutors claim Lee owns through his relatives.

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Some of the alleged bribes involve the influential Samsung Electronics Co., and lawsuit expenses Samsung paid on behalf of DAS, according to Yonhap.

"In privatizing presidential authority [the defendant] damaged the constitution, and far from committing to a sincere reflection, deceived the [South Korean] people to the very end," prosecutors said in statement.

Lee has said the convictions are a retaliatory measure.

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Current South Korean President Moon Jae-in served under the progressive Roh Moo-hyun, who was also investigated for corruption when Lee was president.

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Lee has pleaded not guilty and said in his final statement that graft is a disgrace.

"Corruption and graft, and corrosive alliances between government and business is what I loathe the most," Lee said.

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Lee is expected to go on final trial on Oct. 5, and the event could be broadcast live in South Korea.

The former president said to cast him as corrupt creates an "intolerable" cliché about businesspeople in society.

"I cannot accept this instance of making my family guilty without any evidence," Lee said, referring to the DAS allegations.

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