Lee Myung-bak questioned over claims of bribery involving millions of dollars

2018 shows former South Korean presidents who faced prosecution investigations over corruption and other charges Roh Tae-woo Chun Doo-hwan Roh Moo-hyun and Park Geun-hye

Lee Myung-bak questioned over claims of bribery involving millions of dollars

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak (C) arrives to the Seoul Central District Prosecution Office for questioning in Seoul, South Korea, 14 March 2018. He said he hopes this will be the last time there is such an investigation in South Korea.

Wednesday's summons comes after state prosecutors, over the past few months, questioned numerous figures around Lee including his son, nephew and brother, as well as presidential secretaries who worked with him during his term, from 2008 to 2013.

Conservative Park Geun-hye was ousted last year over a massive corruption scandal that emerged in 2016, and the verdict in her bribery and abuse of power trial is due next month, with prosecutors demanding 30 years in jail.

Lee claims to be the victim of a witch hunt, but prosecutors have about 120 pages of questions for him about what they believe was a systematic program to squirrel away slush funds and amass bribes. Lee has previously called the investigation "political revenge" orchestrated by the current liberal government of President Moon Jae-in, a statement that prompted fury from Moon.

Lee is the 5th former South Korean president to be investigated by prosecutors.

Lee denied owning DAS under questioning Wednesday, a prosecution official told Yonhap news agency.

"As a former president, there are many things I want to say but I have made a decision to spare my words". "I am very sorry for causing worry for the people".

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Among other suspicions is Samsung's alleged 6 billion-won payment of legal fees owed by DAS to a USA law firm from November 2007 to March 2009, in a suit that sought to recoup DAS' 14 billion-won investment in a US company.

Both Samsung and Lee have denied the allegations as groundless.

Prosecutors believe the payment by Samsung is an indication that Lee is the real owner of DAS, as the tech giant had no reason to do so unless it was seeking some influence for its business interest.

Prosecutors reportedly planned to seek an arrest warrant for Lee as early as this week.

Before he entered the prosecutors' office, Lee announced to reporters that he is in a "position of awful discomfort today".

Two other ex-presidents, Chun Dioo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, were tried and convicted in the 1990s for bribery, treason and other charges for their involvement in a 1979 military coup and each spent two years in prison.

Lee also referred to the 2009 suicide of ex-liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, who leapt to his death amid a high-profile corruption investigation of his family when Lee was president.

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