Former South Korean Prime Minister Receives Suspended Jail Sentence for Bribery

David Lee, Jan. 29, 2016, 8:45 a.m.


South Korea's former Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo received an 8-month jail term Friday for receiving bribes from a deceased businessman. Still, the Seoul Central District Court suspended the sentence for two years and ordered him to forfeit 30 million won (US$27,000).

Lee, who stepped down in April after mounting suspicion, was convicted of taking 30 million won at his election office in April 2013 from Sung Wan-jong, the late chairman of construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Inc.

"The authenticity of the recorded interview of Sung Wan-jong and credibility of statements made by secretaries can all be accepted," the court said. A corruption scandal flared up after Sung left a note and a recorded interview claiming that he gave money to eight politicians, including Lee and Hong Joon-pyo, governor of South Gyeongsang Province, as well as President Park Geun-hye's former and current chiefs of staff.

Prosecutors indicted Lee and Hong in July 2015 while not prosecuting the others, citing a lack of evidence and the statute of limitations. "I am very disappointed that the justice department accepted every single claim made by the prosecutors," Lee told reporters after the ruling was delivered, adding he will appeal. "(I) will clear myself of the false charge and reveal the truth by following the proper procedures." Sung hanged himself on April 9 just hours before a court hearing that would have determined the legality of his arrest regarding his embezzlement charges.

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