It also upheld fines worth around 11-and-a-half million U.S. dollars and the seizure of around five million dollars in assets.
In the original verdict in 2018, Lee Myung-bak was convicted of embezzling around 31.7 million dollars through an auto parts company of which he was found to be the real owner.
The company also received money from Samsung which the court considered a bribe.
The original sentence from the district court was 15 years in prison along with fines, but with an appeal by the prosecution at the Seoul High Court, the sentence was increased in February by two years because the court found the bribes were in fact bigger.
Throughout the proceedings, the defendant has denied the allegations, his lawyers on Thursday expressing anger as well.
“This trial, from the investigation to the ruling, has completely disregarded South Korea’s criminal laws and the soul of our Constitution. It makes no sense to make a decision after reading a thousand pages a day. If this isn’t a rushed trial, what is?”
Because it’s a decision by the Supreme Court, it’s highly unlikely that the former president can get a retrial.
Now Lee Myung-bak will be going back to prison, having been out on bail during the appeal process.
He might get a few days’ reprieve, though, considering how sensitive the case is politically.
This makes him South Korea’s fourth former president to be imprisoned for crimes they committed while they were in power, one of whom is Park Guen-hye, who’s now three years into a 20 year sentence.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.