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December 26, 2018

Nawaz among world rulers convicted, charged or arrested during 2018

National

December 26, 2018

LAHORE: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif now features among various world rulers, two of whom happen to be ex-South Korean Presidents, who have been convicted, charged or arrested during 2018 for crimes ranging from exchequer plundering and receiving kickbacks to kidnappings of political foes, murders of arch rivals and seeking unlawful funds from foreign countries for campaign financing, research conducted by the "Jang Group and Geo Televisio Network" reveals.

On October 5 this year, Lee Myung-bak, a former President of South Korea, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for bribery and embezzlement. "The New York Times" had reported: "Mr. Lee was president from 2008 to 2013. His successor, Park Geun-hye, who was impeached and ousted on charges of corruption and abuse of power, wassentenced to 24 years in prison by an appeals court in August.

In a nationally televised ruling, Mr. Lee was convicted of collecting bribes from various sources, including 6.1 billion won, or about $5.4 million, from Samsung, the country's largest business conglomerate, when he was a presidential candidate and after he took office in 2008. In return for the bribes, Mr. Lee did favors for Samsung executives, including granting a Presidential pardon to Lee Kun-hee, the company's chairman, who was convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion in 2009."

On April 6, 2018, another former South Korean President, Park-Geun-hye, was sentenced to 24 years in prison for abuse of power and corruption. She was found guilty in a scandal that exposed webs of double-dealing between political leaders and business conglomerates, and the power of a Rasputin-like figure heading the government.

Widely-read British newspaper "The Guardian" had written: "Park, 66, was not present for the ruling, citing sickness, and has boycotted the proceedings since October 2017. Park has one week to appeal the litany of charges against her that range from corruption to maintaining a blacklist of artists. Prosecutors had sought a 30-year jail sentence and an £80million fine on charges that also included bribery and coercion. In a rare move, the court in Seoul decided to broadcast her trial live, a move Park objected to."

The esteemed media house had further stated: "The court found Park had colluded with her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil to solicit bribes from South Korean conglomerates including Samsung and the retail company Lotte in exchange for policy favours. Prosecutors charged Park with 18 separate crimes and accused her of working with Choi in taking bribes of at least £25million and pressuring companies to fund nonprofits run by Choi's family. She was also accused of leaking classified information."

On March 20, 2018, former French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, was arrested over a campaign financing scam. Sarkozy was questioned as part of an investigation into "irregularities" in election campaign financing.

He is said to have accepted 50million Euros from Muammar Gaddafi's regime, claims which have been repeated by the late Libyan dictator's son.

The amount was more than double the legal spending limit in French elections at that time, which was 21million Euros.

Alleged payments also allegedly violated French laws on foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds. Sarkozy and his campaign manager have repeatedly denied accepting money from Libya since they were accused.

Former Bangladeshi Premier, Khalida Zia, was jailed in February 2018 for five years on charges of corruption. She was found guilty of embezzling the funds for an orphanage trust set up when she was Prime Minister.

Former South African President, Jacob Zuma, could face 18 charges of corruption, including more than 700 counts of fraud and money laundering, the country's Director of Public Prosecutions had announced on March 16, 2018. Facing a motion of no confidence in parliament, Zuma had announced his resignation on February 14, 2018.

Peru's former President, Alberto Fujimori, was re-arrested and sent back to prison after the country's Supreme Court overturned a Presidential pardon he had obtained in December 2017 from country's sitting head of state.

In July 2009, Fujimori was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for exchequer plundering after he admitted to giving $15 million from the Peruvian treasury. Two months later, he pleaded guilty in a fourth trial to bribery and received an additional six-year term.

Under Peruvian law, all the sentences must run concurrently; thus, the maximum length of imprisonment remained 25 years. On March 5, 2018, former Argentinean lady President, Cristina Kirchner, was indicted for obstructing investigation into a 1994 bombing incident that had killed 85 people. She was allegedly making a deal with the Iranian government to stop investigating Iranian officials who may have been involved in the attack in exchange for better prices on Iranian oil and other products.

She could still face trial despite her immunity, while legislators also have the choice to strip her of immunity. On June 18, 2018, Ecuador's highest court had ordered the three-time former President, Rafael Correa, be included in an investigation into a 2012 botched kidnapping of an opposition lawmaker.

After Correa ignored judicial orders and did not assist with the investigation, an Ecuadorian judge had ordered for his arrest on July 3, 2018. The judge alerted Interpol because Correa was living in Belgium at the time with his wife, who was a Belgian native.

Correa denied the allegations surrounding the kidnapping though. On July 26, 2018, Robert Kocharyan, former President and Premier of Armenia, was charged with "overthrowing constitutional order of Armenia" during the final weeks of his rule.

On July 27, 2018, he was arrested.

On August 13, 2018 Kocharyan was freed from custody following a court ruling, but remained accused of the charges he was arrested for.

On December 7, 2018 Kocharyan was arrested again following another ruling by the Court of Appeals.

Tonga's former Premier, Tuivakano was arrested in March 2018 and charged with bribery, perjury and money laundering. Mikheil Saakashvili, former two-time President of Georgia, was accused in October 2018 for masterminding the assassination of country's richest business tycoon a decade earlier.

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