SEOUL, March 20 (Korea Bizwire) — A Seoul court said it will hold a hearing Thursday to determine whether to issue an arrest warrant for former President Lee Myung-bak, who is accused of a dozen corruption charges, including bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power.
The Seoul Central District Court said Tuesday it will begin the hearing at 10:30 a.m. to judge the legality of his detainment. The court is expected to deliver its decision early Friday.
Prosecutors sought an arrest warrant on Monday after months-long investigation, which the disgraced ex-leader has called political revenge.
Lee’s secretariat said he will not attend the court review, as “he has fully explained himself to the prosecution during the interrogation.”
Lee was questioned for 21 hours by the prosecution from Wednesday to Thursday last week.
Lee, president from 2008-2013, is suspected of taking about 11 billion won (US$10.3 million) in bribes from the state intelligence agency, Samsung Group and others.
The 77-year-old is believed to be the secret owner of auto parts maker DAS that on paper belongs to his older brother Lee Sang-eun.
Prosecutors are said to have alleged in their argument for an arrest warrant that Lee created 34 billion won in slush funds via the company from 1994-2006 and the money was the “reservoir of the suspect Lee’s illegal seed capital” funneled into his political campaigns.
The key bribery charge Lee faces is Samsung’s alleged 2007 payment of a 6.8 billion won lawsuit fee for DAS. DAS filed the suit seeking to recoup the company’s 14 billion-won investment from a U.S. investment advisory firm.
Prosecutors believe Lee directly ordered government agencies to make sure DAS gets its money back. They also accuse Lee of receiving bribes from Samsung in addition to the retaining fee.
If the warrant is issued, he will become the country’s fourth former president to be arrested on criminal charges.
Fresh suspicions were raised early this week that Lee took bribes ahead of the 2007 presidential election from a Buddhist monk seeking Lee’s influence in establishing a Buddhist university.
The corruption scandal against the former president has been engulfing his own family. His wife and former first lady Kim Yoon-ok is also suspected of taking kickbacks, including a Hermes bag, and cash.
Lee has denied all allegations, accusing the probe of being political retaliation by liberal President Moon Jae-in and vowing to “fight with utmost efforts to get the truth out in court.”