Another South Korean leader questioned in corruption probe

2018 shows former South Korean presidents who faced prosecution investigations over corruption and other charges Roh Tae-woo Chun Doo-hwan Roh Moo-hyun and Park Geun-hye

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Wednesday appeared before state prosecutors for questioning over a string of corruption charges including bribery, becoming the latest South Korean leader to be investigated.

Lee claims to be the victim of a witch hunt, but prosecutors have about 120 pages of questions for him about what they believe was a systematic program to squirrel away slush funds and amass bribes. "As a former president, I do have a lot of things I want to say, but I promised myself I have to save my words". Lee is the fifth former president to be interrogated by state prosecutors.

"I am sorry for adding a cause of anxiety for the people, when the economy is struggling and the atmosphere surrounding the Korean Peninsula is severe", he said.

Two of the ex-president's former aides have been arrested and the homes and offices of his brothers raided.

Among other suspicions is Samsung's alleged 6 billion-won payment of legal fees owed by DAS to a USA law firm from November 2007 to March 2009, in a suit that sought to recoup DAS' 14 billion-won investment in a US company.

Lee reportedly denied the allegations during the morning interrogation session before breaking for lunch at 1:10 p.m.

Lee is also suspected of dodging taxes through accounting fraud in the DAS and by owning real estate assets and bank deposits under borrowed names.

"It would be a shame if the prosecution fails to prove Lee's wrongdoings".

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The prosecution office and police beefed up security around the perimeter to prevent any possible clash.

South Korea's former president Lee Myung-bak (front R) arrives at the prosecutors' office in Seoul on March 14, 2018.

Before he entered the prosecutors' office, Lee announced to reporters that he is in a "position of bad discomfort today".

Lee, former chief executive of Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., entered politics in 1992 as a lawmaker and served as Seoul mayor from 2002 to 2006.

Lee also said he hopes for the day's event to be the "last in history".

Lee Myung-bak's appearance at the prosecutors' office comes a year after former ousted president Park Geun-hye stood in the same place.

Lee also referred to the 2009 suicide of ex-liberal President Roh Moo-hyun, who leapt to his death amid a high-profile corruption investigation of his family when Lee was president.

Former Presidents Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo stood trial in the mid-1990s for corruption and mutiny charges for staging a 1979 military coup before they were pardoned in 1997 by then-President Kim Young-sam.