Nearly a year after he was bailed out of jail while facing corruption charges, former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was taken back into custody on Wednesday after an appeals court sentenced him to a lengthier prison term of 17 year over bribery, embezzlement and other convictions.
The Seoul High Court also ordered the 78-year-old to pay 13 billion won ($10.9 million) in fines and forfeit another 5.78 billion won ($4.6 million) over the alleged crimes that took place while he was president from 2008 to 2013 or when he was a candidate before winning the 2007 election.
Lee´s lawyers told reporters after the ruling that he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.
Lee, who has denied the accusations against him, appealed to the High Court after a lower court in October 2018 found him guilty of bribery, embezzlement and other crimes and sentenced him to 15 years in prison.
Lee was released from detention in March last year after the court approved bail of 1 billion won ($841,000) and permitted him to return home under strict monitoring conditions that resembled house arrest. He had been banned from meeting or communicating with people beyond direct family members and lawyers.
The charges against Lee include taking bribes worth millions of dollars from Samsung and other companies and misusing the funds of South Korea’s spy agency. The court also sided with prosecutors´ claims that Lee embezzled around $30 million in corporate funds from an auto parts company he owned.
Lee was a Hyundai CEO and Seoul mayor before he became president. His election victory ended a decade of liberal rule that sought rapprochement with North Korea and reflected voters’ hopes that he would revive a bad economy. But Lee’s presidency was marred by political and corruption scandals and heightened animosity with North Korea, including attacks on a warship and a border island that killed 50 South Koreans in 2010.
Lee’s conservative successor, Park Geun-hye, is also serving a decades-long prison term over a separate corruption scandal for which she was removed from office in 2017 following months of huge anti-government rallies. She has not requested bail.