Ex-S.Korean president Lee Myung-bak questioned over corruption charges

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The former president and his legal team have been preparing for the interrogation which is likely to run into the night as he faces some 20 charges, Chosun Ilbo reported.

Former South Korean President Lee Myung-bak was questioned by prosecutors Wednesday in connection to a massive corruption probe, joining a long list of ex-leaders tainted by scandal.

"I'm sorry to have caused troubles amid the economic difficulties and the grave security situation, and I send my apologies to my supporters and to people experiencing difficulties".

Last month, Seoul prosecutors searched the offices of Samsung Electronics as part of the investigation, the prosecutors' office said.

Park Geun-hye, Lee's successor, was ousted from office previous year, standing trial on charges of bribery and abuse of power.

Lee, accompanied by his defence lawyer, was received by a senior prosecutor and given tea before being ushered into room 1001, where Park underwent a marathon 21.5 hour questioning a year ago. She is now standing trial, with prosecutors requesting 30 years in jail. Park is in jail as she awaits a court verdict set for early next month.

Lee, who ended his five-year presidential term in February 2013, appeared in the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office as a "criminal suspect" on allegations that he had received tens of millions of U.S. dollars in bribes from the country's intelligence agency and companies, including Samsung Electronics, Xinhua reported.

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.

Two of Lee's former aides have been arrested as part of the investigation and the homes and offices of his brothers raided.

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.

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

Allegations of graft involving the conservative 76-year-old's relatives and aides during his term have mounted in recent weeks as prosecutors investigate multiple cases of bribery amounting to millions of dollars.

He stands accused of almost 20 criminal allegations, including receiving illicit funds of some 11.1 billion won ($10.4 million) from the state spy agency, individuals and businesses, including Samsung. Lee's been firmly denying all charges against him and many see his short remark before the press on Wednesday morning as a direct criticism of the current administration's efforts to eradicate what is being called 'wrongdoings of the past'.

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