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Former South Korean President Lee Sentenced to 15 Years

Former South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, left, is helped by a prison official as he arrives at a court to attend his trial in Seoul, Sept. 6, 2018.

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was sentenced to 15 years in prison Friday on a range of corruption allegations.

Lee also was ordered to pay an almost $11.5 million fine.

He had been alleged to have taken several million dollars in bribes from Samsung and other companies while in office, as well as embezzling almost $35 million from a company he was involved with.

Prosecutors had originally sought a sentence of 20 years for his illegal activities.

Lee has denied all wrongdoing and called the case against him “political revenge.” He has been in custody since March 23.

Lee is the fourth elected South Korean leader to receive jail time after leaving the executive position.

Breaking down the verdict

In the nearly 90-minute televised trial session, the court ruled that former President Lee was the de facto owner of his brother’s company, DAS. The court found that Lee had ordered officials there to create slush funds and partake in accounting irregularities. Lee had long been suspected of being the owner of DAS, which was the company at the center of the scandal that led to his imprisonment.

Lee was also found guilty of accepting a $5.85 million payment from Samsung Electronics Company. The court found that the purpose of the funds was to arrange clemency for a tax evasion probe against its chairman, Lee Kun-hee.

The Seoul Central District Court found Lee only responsible for about $21.7 million in embezzled funds, citing a lack of evidence from the prosecution for the full $35 million.

Lee was not present in the courtroom Friday when the sentence was read in protest of the proceeding being carried live on television.

Lee Ju-hyun contributed to this report.