Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail on Friday in a corruption case that has badly tainted his standing because the nation’s first chief with a enterprise background who as soon as symbolised the nation’s financial rise.
Lee’s conviction got here six months after his successor and fellow conservative, Park Geun-hye was convicted in a separate corruption scandal that triggered the nation’s biggest political turmoil in a long time.
She is serving a 33-year jail time period.
The back-to-back scandals severely wounded conservatives in South Korea and deepened a nationwide divide.
Few previous South Korean leaders are free from corruption scandals.
Earlier than Lee and Park, former liberal South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun jumped to his demise in 2009 amid a high-profile corruption investigation of his household.
His liberal predecessor and Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae-jung was pressured to apologise on the shut of his time period in spite of everything three of his sons have been arrested or embroiled in scandals.
On Friday, Seoul Central District Courtroom convicted Lee of embezzling 24.6 billion received ($21.7 million) from an organization he owned known as DAS; taking bribes from Samsung, one in all his spy chiefs, a former lawmaker and a monetary determine; and inflicting losses to state coffers.
The court docket fined Lee 13bn received ($11.5m).
It stated Lee dedicated these crimes earlier than and through his presidency from 2008 to 2013.
The court docket stated Lee took 6.1bn received ($5.4m) from Samsung in bribes that have been utilized in authorized bills for DAS.
That cash led to a 2009 authorities pardon of Samsung’s convicted chairman, Lee Kun-hee, the court docket verdict stated.
The Samsung chief had been earlier fined and sentenced to a suspended three-year jail time period in reference to losses at a Samsung affiliate and tax evasion.
Lee Myung-bak “has bitterly disillusioned not solely residents who trusted and supported him but in addition our total nation,” chief decide Chung Kye-Solar stated in a televised verdict.
Lee, 76, who has denied many of the allegations, did not attend the court docket session, reportedly citing his well being and in protest of a court docket resolution to permit a stay broadcast.
His lawyer stated the printed would harm South Korea’s worldwide picture and undermine nationwide unity, in line with the Yonhap information company.
Lee and prosecutors have one week to enchantment, in line with the court docket.
Earlier than serving as president, Lee was one of the crucial well-known businessmen in South Korea and had been mayor of Seoul.
He joined Hyundai Group’s development arm within the mid-1960s and led the corporate’s speedy rise at a time when South Korea’s economic system grew explosively from the rubble of the 1950-53 Korean Battle.
Lee, who as soon as peddled low-cost snacks and ice cream on the streets as a poor teenager, began at Hyundai with an entry-level job however finally rose to CEOs of 10 corporations below Hyundai Group.
He was dubbed a “salaryman legend” or a “bulldozer,” and his success story was chronicled in common tv dramas.
Whereas serving as Seoul mayor from 2002 to 2006, Lee additional constructed up his can-do picture by pushing by an bold but robust mission to demolish an inter-city freeway and open up a paved-over stream to create a brand new landmark in central Seoul.
Lee received the 2007 election by the widest margin in South Korean historical past on the time owing to public hope that he may revitalise the faltering economic system.
However his five-year time period was marred by a worldwide monetary meltdown, large avenue protests over the resumption of imports of United States beef and a rising navy animosity with North Korea.
Earlier than his arrest, Lee accused the present liberal authorities of President Moon Jae-in of retaliating over the 2009 demise of Roh, whose corruption investigation occurred when Lee was in workplace.
Moon, who was Roh’s buddy and chief of workers, responded with fury, calling his accusation a problem to South Korea’s judiciary order.
Beforehand, Moon known as the Roh investigation politically motivated by the Lee authorities.
Moon, who has a public approval ranking of about 65 per cent, faces rising conservative criticism that he is executed little to revive the economic system whereas focusing an excessive amount of on participating with North Korea and digging out wrongdoing dedicated below the Lee and Park governments.
Park supporters have been often staging rallies in Seoul, calling for her launch.
They revere her dictator father Park Chung-hee, whose 1961-79 rule was marked by each extreme human rights abuses and dramatic financial improvement.
After the elder Park was gunned down by his spy chief, ex-military generals Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo dominated successively.
After leaving workplace, each frolicked in jail on bribery, treason, munity and different prices.