Prosecutors on Monday applied for an arrest warrant for ex-President Lee Myung-bak on a dozen charges including bribery and embezzlement.
"Each of the charges is enough to arrest and hold him in custody. And evidence and testimonies by his close aides alone verify the charges," prosecutors said. "We fear that he could try and destroy evidence given that he is denying even simple facts."
They said the charges "are no lighter" than those brought against ex-President Park Geun-hye. "We also took fairness into consideration at a time when accessories to some of the charges are already held in custody," a prosecution spokesman said.
Lee's defense team said prosecutors were "hasty" in seeking the warrant even though they are saying that they need to investigate further.
The 200-page draft of the arrest warrant accuses Lee of taking about W11 billion in bribes (US$1=W1,073). They include W6 billion he allegedly forced Samsung to pay in U.S. legal fees for DAS, an auto parts company nominally owned by his brother, and W2.25 billion that he received from Lee Pal-seung, a former chairman of Woori Finance Holding, around the time of the 2007 presidential election.
Prosecutors believe Lee is the real owner of DAS and charged him with embezzlement for slush funds worth W35 billion from company coffers.
Lee denied the charges under questioning last week.
A court will decide whether to approve the arrest warrant later this week.
Ex-President Lee Myung-bak leaves the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office on March 15.