SEOUL – The Supreme Court of South Korea upheld on Thursday the 17-year prison sentence handed to former president Lee Myung-bak for embezzlement and bribery, local news agency Yonhap reported.
In February, an appeals court sentenced Lee to 17-years in jail and a fine of 13 billion won (about $11.4 million) along with additional penalties of 5.7 billion won.
The 78-year-old former president was indicted in April 2018 over 16 different charges, including receiving bribes and embezzlement in connection with auto parts company DAS.
Lee, who served as president between 2008-2013, was imprisoned in October 2018 when the Seoul Central District Court handed him a 15-year jail sentence and was released on bail in March 2019.
Following a ruling in February by the appeals court, which added two years to the sentence, Lee returned to jail for six days and was released again after filing an injunction against the verdict.
The Supreme Court’s decision will send Lee back to prison to serve his sentence without the possibility of any more appeals.
The judges believe that Lee embezzled 25.2 billion won from DAS, a company of which he was deemed by the court to be de facto owner of, and which was officially headed by his brother.
The court also found him guilty of accepting bribes worth 9.4 billion won during his term as president, including $5.85 million from the Samsung Group, to pardon the prison term faced for tax fraud by then head of the conglomerate, Lee Kun-hee, who died on Sunday.
Lee is the fourth former president of the country to be sentenced to prison, after Chun Doo-hwan, who was the leader of the last military junta until 1987, Roh Tae-woo and Park Geun-hye.
Park is serving a 25-year sentence for corruption following her conviction in 2018 in connection with the “Rasputin” scandal.