Ex-S.Korean president questioned over corruption charges

Former President Lee Myung-bak speaks after arriving at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors&apos Office for questioning

Former President Lee Myung-bak speaks after arriving at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors&apos Office for questioning

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak visited on Wednesday the prosecution headquarters for an interrogation over numerous corruption allegations, the Yonhap news agency reported on Wednesday.

Last month, Seoul prosecutors searched the offices of Samsung Electronics as part of the investigation, the prosecutors' office said.

"I stand here today with wretched feelings".

Lee walked into the building without taking any questions from reporters. Most of all, I am sorry to the Korean citizens for causing concerns over matters related to me while the public livelihood is hard and the security environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula is very grave. "But I hope this will be the last time in history that this happens".

The former president is expected to deny any knowledge of the transactions.

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Lee is also suspected of dodging taxes through accounting fraud in the DAS and by owning real estate assets and bank deposits under borrowed names.

Lee, who ended his five-year presidential term in February 2013, appeared in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office as a "criminal suspect" on allegations that he had received tens of millions of United States dollars in bribes from the country's intelligence agency and companies, including Samsung Electronics, Xinhua reported.

He also faces suspicions that he was involved in huge illegal funds created through DAS, an auto parts maker.

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

Former conservative President Park Geun-hye, Lee's successor, was removed from office a year ago for an influence-peddling scandal involving her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil.

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The National Intelligence Service, the country's spy agency, is believed to have delivered secret operation fund to Lee's office at his behest through his closest aides, some of whom already admitted the allegation.

The former president is also suspected of having had Samsung pay 6 billion won of legal fees owed by DAS to a US law firm from November 2007 to March 2009 in a suit that sought to recoup DAS' 14 billion-won investment in a USA company. The prosecution temporarily shut down most of its entrances and only allowed entry for media personnel whose IDs have been cleared in advance.

"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 south of the capital that was shown on live television.

Prosecutors raided the offices and homes of Lee's relatives and aides, many of whom were summoned for grilling.

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