Anchor: Lee Myung-bak has become the fifth former president to be questioned by the prosecution. Before his questioning began, Lee stood before throngs of reporters and apologized to the public for causing concern. He is expected to deny charges against him.
Kim In-kyung has more.
Report: Former President Lee Myung-bak appeared for questioning as a suspect at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on Wednesday morning.
Surrounded by hundreds of reporters, the former president apologized for causing concern.
[Sound bite: Former President Lee Myung-bak (Korean)]
“I am standing here today with a devastated heart. Most of all, I am very sorry to the Korean citizens for causing concerns over matters related to me while the public livelihood is difficult and the security environment surrounding the Korean Peninsula is very grave. I am sincerely sorry to the people who supported me and who are going through hard times because of me.”
“I have much to say as a former president but I promised myself to save my words. But I hope this will be the last time in history that this happens. Again, I would like to say to the public that I am sorry."
When asked by a reporter if he accepted the allegations against him, Lee did not respond.
Lee faces some 20 charges, including bribery, embezzlement and tax evasion. He is suspected of receiving about eleven billion won in bribes from the National Intelligence Service(NIS), Samsung Group and other companies.
The prosecution believes Lee is responsible for the illegal provision of one-point-75 billion won from the NIS to his presidential office and suspects Samsung Electronics paid about six billion won worth of litigation fees for auto parts company DAS, of which he is suspected of owning.
The former president is expected to deny any knowledge of the transactions.
Prosecutors will also question him on whether he owns DAS. They believe that the former president holds more than 80 percent of the company's shares under borrowed names. Lee is expected to reiterate his claim that it belongs to his older brother Lee Sang-eun.
Lee has said the investigation against him is a political vendetta by the liberal government.
The questioning is expected to continue until late into the night considering the number of allegations against him.
The grilling is taking place in special interrogation room 1001, the same place former President Park Geun-hye was questioned one year ago. The inquiry will be videotaped as consented to by the former president.
Kim In-kyung, KBS World Radio News.