Ex-South Korean Leader Headed for Jail After Losing Final Appeal in Graft Case


Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak faces spending much of his remaining years in prison, after the Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s corruption conviction against the conservative ex-leader.

Lee, 78, planned to surrender to prosecutors by Monday, his lawyer said Thursday, after South Korea’s highest court denied his final appeal against his conviction on embezzlement and bribery charges. The former president has been free since February, when he filed to overturn a 13 billion won ($11.4 million) fine and 17-year prison sentence, which could keep him behind bars into his 90s.

Ex-South Korean Leader Headed for Jail After Losing Final Appeal in Graft Case

Lee’s term from 2008 to 2013 was marked by mass protests and renewed tensions with North Korea and his downfall under a cloud of corruption charges continues a pattern for South Korean leaders. He’s the third freely elected former president to be jailed on graft charges, with his arrest following the impeachment, removal and prosecution of his successor, Park Geun-hye.

The cases helped fueled a resurgence of the left-leaning Democratic Party of Korea under President Moon Jae-in, who has nonetheless found his own administration dogged by a series of scandals. The conservative bloc has rebranded itself as the People Power Party in an effort to capitalize on continued discontent over issues including housing costs and the country’s wealth gap.

Lee was charged in 2018 with 16 charges related to an automobile parts company DAS. The court concluded that Lee used the company to embezzle 25.2 billion won of money while accepting bribes totaling 9.4 billion won.

Lee’s lawyer told reporters Thursday that the president was scheduled to receive a medical examination Friday and would report to prosecutors Monday.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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