The prosecution has indicted former President Lee Myung-bak over various charges of corruption and abuse of power. Lee will become the fourth former South Korean president to stand trial.
He faces 16 charges including bribery, tax evasion, embezzlement and abuse of power. This comes five years after he left office.
Wrapping up its three-month investigation into the ex-president, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Monday held a news conference to explain the grounds for indicting the former leader.
The prosecution concluded that Lee is the real owner of the local auto parts firm DAS. It also said that he embezzled 34-point-nine billion won of the company's funds in various ways, including forming slush funds, paying false wages, and privately using corporate credit cards.
Investigators say the illegal slush funds were used to fund political campaigns and pay for his household expenses.
Lee is also accused of receiving around eleven billion won in kickbacks from the National Intelligence Service, individuals and businesses, including Woori Financial Holdings.
The 76-year-old has denied most of the charges including ownership of DAS, saying that legal shareholders including his older brother Lee Sang-eun are the firm's real owners.
The ex-president claims the investigation is an act of political retaliation by the liberal Moon Jae-in administration. He has refused to cooperate with the prosecution as it sought to hold more interrogation sessions with him while in detention.
Prosecutors are expected to widen their probe on corporate figures and members of Lee's inner circle, who are believed to have offered him bribes.
They are said to be considering indicting his wife, Kim Yoon-ok, over allegedly delivering millions of won to Lee from Woori Financial Holdings. The couple’s son Lee Si-hyung is also likely to stand trial over embezzlement and breach of duty in relation to DAS.
The investigation will continue on more family members, relatives and close aides. If charges are determined, they will also be referred to trial.
Lee is also expected to face more charges related to allegations of corporate bribery and illegal public opinion polls conducted by the presidential office.
Regarding his criminal proceeds including the bribes he received, the prosecution will request a court order to seize his assets including his residence in Seoul and other properties held under borrowed names.