By Kim Tong-hyung
President-elect Lee Myung-bak was grilled by investigators after they had looked into his alleged involvement in fraud and business irregularities at a downtown Seoul hotel Sunday.
The Constitutional Court last month approved independent counsel's Chung Ho-young to investigate a number of suspicions surrounding Lee that were raised during the presidential campaign, including his alleged involvement in rigging of stock prices of the BBK investment consultancy.
Chung's team is also trying to confirm whether Lee deliberately failed to disclose some of his assets, including an apartment in southern Seoul, whose ownership is yet unknown, thus violating the law regarding civil servants' ethics.
Lee was questioned for about nine hours until midnight at his temporary office at Lotte Hotel with investigators focusing on a video-recorded speech at Kwangwoon University in 2000 where he appears to be taking credit for the establishment of the BBK. Chung was not present during Lee's questioning, officials said.
The investigators are planning to report its findings on Feb. 22, three days before Lee takes office.
The independent counsel has been speeding up its probe of Lee as their mandate of 40 days expires on Saturday. However, the team was apparently reluctant to summon Lee to their office in Yoksam-dong, southern Seoul, with his inauguration ceremony just a week away.
Prosecutors looked into the allegations surrounding Lee during the presidential elections last year, but eventually cleared him from the suspicions citing lack of evidence. However, critics, including opposing presidential candidates, questioned whether the prosecutors pushed their probe far enough, as they failed to question Lee in person and had conducted the interviews in writings instead.