Prosecutors question another ex-South Korean leader

Ex-President Lee Faces Questioning in Corruption Probe

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak faces prosecutors Wednesday for an intensive questioning session over various allegations of bribery and irregularities during his years in office.

"I am standing here today with a devastated heart".

Lee, 76, said he was sorry for "causing concern" as he stood before a bustling crowd of journalists outside the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office, according to Yonhap News Agency.

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

"As a former president, there are many things I want to say but I have made a decision to spare my words". He hoped that he is the country's last president in history to be investigated by prosecutors.

From L to R, this composite photo filed March 13, 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.

Investigators believe Lee ordered the National Intelligence Agency to funnel $1.6 million to his office through his presidential aides, some of whom have already been arrested.

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.

Prosecutors have prepared about 120 pages of questions for the former president, as they strongly suspect he is the main culprit behind a web of bribery and embezzlement charges involving his former presidential secretaries, state officials and family members.

When asked by a reporter if he accepted the allegations against him, Lee did not respond. The questioning resumed at 2 p.m.

While it is typical practice to end a prosecutorial probe as late as midnight, some expect Lee's questioning to continue to the next day, given the large number of allegations against him. Lee's been firmly denying all charges against him and many see his short remark before the press on Wednesday morning as a direct criticism of the current administration's efforts to eradicate what is being called 'wrongdoings of the past'. Lee is expected to reiterate his claim that it belongs to his older brother Lee Sang-eun.

Park is accused of offering policy favours to top businessmen who helped enrich Choi including Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong.

Lee is the fourth former president to appear for questioning as a suspect after former President Roh Tae-woo did so in 1995, Roh Moo-hyun in 2009 and Park Geun-hye previous year.

Park Geun-hye, 66, was impeached a year ago amid a massive corruption scandal involving her secret confidante, Choi Soon-sil, and is now being tried on dozens of charges ranging from abuse of power to corruption. She was arrested 10 days later.

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