July 17, 2013 10:49
Prosecutors on Tuesday raided the home of disgraced ex-president Chun Doo-hwan and also searched the offices of his two sons and close relatives on the trail of massive unpaid fines for corruption in office.
Prosecutors apparently confiscated around 140 valuable artworks from the office of Chun's eldest son Jae-kook, including around 30 pieces of rare porcelain. "We discovered many works of art at a dormitory for staff in Paju, Gyeonggi Province," a prosecutor said. "They hadn't even been unpacked, so we believe them to be part of Chun's hidden assets."
The raid on Chun's home in the posh Yeonhui-dong area in northern Seoul also yielded one artwork valued at around W100 million (US$1=W1,119). The former president's home was also seized in order to pay the fines.
The raid involved 87 prosecutors and investigators and started at 9 a.m. They confiscated various financial records and computers at the offices of Chun's sons. Chun and his wife reportedly looked dazed when prosecutors stormed into their house.
Witnesses quoted Chun as telling the lead prosecutor he felt "ashamed before the public" to have to go through such an ordeal. A prosecution official said some items in Chun's residence could not be clearly identified as belonging to the ex-president and were simply tagged with red stickers for identification later.
Chun, who came to power in a 1979 military coup, was fined W220 billion in 1997 for amassing illegal slush funds during his decade in unelected office, but only paid W53.3 billion and continues to live a life of luxury.
His four children own more than W100 billion in assets. Jae-kook has around W30 billion in financial assets and real estate, while the second son Jae-yong, who divorced his first wife to marry an actress, owns a significant amount of real estate through his property management company.
"We even brought metal detectors to search his lawn for any buried assets," a prosecution spokesman said.
In 2003, prosecutors obtained a court order requiring Chun to reveal the size of his assets and seized a portion of his residence and other assets and put them up for auction. At that time, Chun claimed he only had W290,000 left.
In further signs that Korea's patience with the ex-ruler is running out, the National Assembly last week passed a bill extending the statute of limitations on corruption in office to ensure he does not slip through the net. It also allows the forfeiture of assets illegally gained by family members or acquaintances.
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