The Supreme Court of South Korea on Thursday upheld a 17-year prison term for former President Lee Myung-bak and ordered him sent back to prison.
He is the second former leader of South Korea behind bars on corruption charges.
Mr. Lee, who was president from 2008 to 2013, was expected to be taken to prison in a few days, making him the second former South Korean president behind bars on corruption charges. Mr. Lee’s successor, Park Geun-hye, who was impeached and ousted on charges of bribery and abuse of power, was sentenced to 25 years in prison by an appeals court in 2018.
That same year, Mr. Lee was arrested on bribery and embezzlement charges. He was successfully convicted in lower courts, but has been out on bail in recent months while waiting for the Supreme Court’s final say on his case, which he had appealed.
In October 2018, a Seoul district court sentenced Mr. Lee to 15 years in prison, convicting him of collecting 8.5 billion won, or $7.5 million, in bribes from various sources — most of it from Samsung, the country’s largest business conglomerate — when he was a presidential candidate and after he took office.
The court also ruled that Mr. Lee, a former executive of Hyundai, disguised his ownership of a lucrative auto parts maker under the names of relatives and embezzled 24 billion won from the company between 1995 and 2007.
An appeals court added two years to his prison sentence in February, saying that the value of the bribes he had taken was larger: 9.4 billion won. On Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld the verdict and the 17-year prison sentence.
Mr. Lee, 78, collected bribes from Samsung in the form of lawyer fees that Samsung paid to settle a lawsuit involving the auto parts company, known as Das, according to prosecutors. In return for the bribes, Mr. Lee did favors for Samsung executives, including granting a presidential pardon to Lee Kun-hee, the company’s chairman, who was convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion in 2009, prosecutors said.