The Seoul High Court on Monday sentenced former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook to two years in prison for receiving W900 million in illegal campaign funds from a businessman (US$1=W1,082).
The verdict overturns an acquittal at first instance and comes on top of a fine of W883 million.
The court deemed "credible" the account of the businessman, Han Man-ho (55) that he gave Han the money. The presiding judge said the ruling was backed by the fact that Han's younger sister used the same check the businessman gave the ex-prime minister to pay for the lease on her home and that he demanded Han pay back W300 million.
The judge called Han's acceptance of the money a "grievous offense" as she received it ahead of her party’s selection of a presidential candidate but then used it for private ends rather than her election campaign. The judge also criticized Han for her lack of remorse and attempts to pass the blame to her aides.
Han denounced the ruling as "politically motivated" and protested her innocence. She vowed to take the case all the way up to the Supreme Court.
The ex-premier was indicted for receiving the money in the form of cash and checks from March to August 2007, but was cleared by a lower court in 2011.