Former S.Korean President Lee questioned


The presidential office is maintaining a cautious stance in relation to former President Lee Myung-bak's questioning by prosecutors on Wednesday. "I feel painful and sorrowful to stand here".

"I stand here with a heavy heart", Lee said as he arrived at the prosecutors' office in Seoul, after a vehicle journey from his home in the capital covered live on television.

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

"As a former president, I have a lot to say about this but I will spare my words", he said. He said he hopes this will be the last time there is such an investigation in South Korea.

The former conservative leader, who was in office from 2009 to 2013, is the fifth president to be grilled by the prosecution, following Chun Doo-hwan, Roh Tae-woo, Roh Moo-hyun and Park Geun-hye.

He became the latest former South Korean president to be investigated by prosecutors over corruption.

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.

Lee faces roughly 20 allegations in total, including bribery, creating slush funds and abuse of power. The questioning resumed at 2 p.m. 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.

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One of Lee's brothers is DAS's largest shareholder, but prosecutors suspect Lee is its de facto owner.

On Tuesday, Lee and his legal team put their heads together at his home in Nonhyeon-dong, Seoul to prepare for interrogation. Lee's auto pulled up to the prosecutors' building on Wednesday.

Prosecutors estimate Lee holds more than 80 percent of the company's shares under borrowed names.

Public response appears disappointed to find yet another former president investigated for corruption. She is now standing trial, with prosecutors requesting 30 years in jail.

Wednesday's interrogation of Lee comes 358 days after ousted President Park appeared at the prosecution's office to be questioned on March 21 previous year. She was formally removed from office and arrested last March.

"It would be a shame if the prosecution fails to prove Lee's wrongdoings". Lee has denied all charges levied on him.

They will question him about allegations that he pushed Samsung to pay US legal fees for DAS, an auto parts company nominally owned by his brother on his behalf, and if he received illicit money from the National Intelligence Service while in office.

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