February 20, 2020 09:45
Former president Lee Myung-bak was sentenced to 17 years in prison on appeal Wednesday on charges including embezzlement and corruption.
Lee was found guilty of embezzling W34.9 billion from a car parts company he owned by proxy and receiving W11.1 billion in bribes while in office (US$1=W1,189).
The former president was indicted in April of 2018 of 16 offenses. The Seoul High Court sentenced him to 12 years for having Samsung pay U.S. legal fees for the car parts company, DAS, and another five years for embezzling funds from the company, which was nominally owned by his brother.
The court also slapped Lee with a W13 billion fine and forfeit of another W5.78 billion. Under Korean law, a president's bribery offenses must be tried separately from other violations.
At the crux of the courts' deliberations was Lee really was the owner of DAS, which he strenuously denied. Both ruled that he was the de facto owner, based on cash flow evidence and testimony by former aides who spilled the beans. That meant Lee was the direct recipient of W9.4 billion in bribes from Samsung and embezzled W25.1 billion from the publicly traded company.
The appeals court sentenced him to two years more than the lower court because it determined that the bribe in fact amounted to W900 million more than had been accepted at first instance.
The high court also revoked his bail and sent him back to jail 350 days after he was released on bail while the appeal was pending. Lee was freed from detention last March on W1 billion in bail with such stringent conditions that they amounted to effective house arrest.
Lee's lawyer Kang Hoon shortly after the verdict denounced the court's decision as "unacceptable."
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