Prosecutors consider grilling the wife of Lee Myung-bak

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Prosecutors consider grilling the wife of Lee Myung-bak

The prosecution is considering grilling former President Lee Myung-bak’s wife after he refused to cooperate with further questioning on corruption charges.

According to sources in the legal community, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office notified Lee’s defense team that it is considering the possibility of questioning Kim Yoon-ok, Lee’s wife, on suspicions that involve both her and the former president. Lee, who served as president from 2008 to 2013, is being detained at the Seoul Dongbu Detention Center, southern Seoul, as a suspect in bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power allegations.

The sources said the prosecution informed the lawyers about the possibility Friday, one day after Lee was taken into custody. No specifics such as whether Kim will be summoned to the prosecution and interrogated by a prosecutor were decided, they said.

The prosecution summoned Lee on March 14 and questioned him for 21 hours on charges of taking bribes from businessmen and politicians, misappropriating secret operations funds from the country’s spy agency and generating slush funds using a company registered in his family’s name.

The prosecution attempted to question him at the detention center on Monday, but he refused to meet them. Challenging the integrity of the probe, Lee, through his lawyer, said he will boycott any further questioning. He has said the probe is a “political vendetta” by the current Moon Jae-in administration.

Two senior prosecutors on Wednesday visited the detention center for the second time to try to question Lee. Once again, he refused to meet them. Through his lawyer, Lee told them that he will not cooperate.

The prosecution said it will continue to try to persuade Lee through his lawyer. They are scheduled to meet with him in the afternoon.

The prosecution has refrained from questioning Kim to avoid criticism of excessive use of its investigate power, but some of the suspicions involve her.

Kim allegedly played a role when Lee Pal-sung, former chairman of the Woori Financial Group, gave 350 million won ($328,392) in cash and 10 million won worth of clothing to Lee in 2007 around the time of his presidential victory. Kim was also accused of receiving an expensive handbag containing 100 million won in cash, in 2011 from Lee Pal-sung.

BY SER MYO-JA, PARK KWANG-SOO [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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