A Seoul district court ruled Thursday in favor of former President Lee Myung-bak in a lawsuit filed by a former tenant of a Seoul building that Lee owned.
A Chinese restaurant owner sued Lee in September 2013, claiming that the former president and his charitable organization made millions of undue profits from a building extension fully funded by the tenant.
The Seoul District Court cleared the allegations against the former president, citing lack of evidence. The restaurant owner said he would appeal to a higher court.
“At the time of the construction, the plaintiff signed an agreement (with the building manager) that he would give up his rights to the building upon the termination of the contract. This is seen as the plaintiff waiving his claim of the construction cost,” Judge Lee Jung-ho said in his ruling.
For nearly 10 years since 1994, the restaurant owner has run his business in the first floor of the building in Seocho, Seoul, which had been owned by the former president for about 30 years. .
In 2000, the lessee spent 600 million won ($557,000) on building a second floor to the building, in hopes of signing a long-term contract.
But he was asked to empty the building less than two years after the completion of the construction, according to court records.
Lee donated the building to his charity organization, the Lee and Kim Foundation, upon its launch in 2009, along with his other personal wealth worth 35.47 billion won.
The lessee filed the suit in September 2013, claiming 600 million won in compensation.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)