Prosecutors on Tuesday questioned the second son of ex-President Chun Doo-hwan about what happened to the disgraced former leader's massive slush fund.
Chun Jae-yong (49) was the first of the ex-president's three sons to be summoned. His father, who seized power in a 1979 military coup, was fined W220.5 billion (US$1=W1,099) in 1997 for corruption during his decade in unelected office, but only paid W53.3 billion pleading poverty and continues to live a life of luxury.
Armed with a new law that allows the seizure of illegally gained assets from family members or acquaintances of corrupt officials, prosecutors in July raided the offices and homes of Chun and his children seeking to recover the remaining W167.2 billion of his fine.
Chun Jae-yong was first grilled by prosecutors 10 years ago for failing to pay taxes on W16.7 billion worth of assets he received from his father and sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison. But his sentence was whittled down to three years of probation.
Prosecutors said they granted Chun Jae-yong's request to be summoned discreetly. He appeared at around 7:40 a.m. without a lawyer, having promised not to waste their time.
Chun junior is again charged with evading taxes on the money he received from his father and with funneling a large amount of money overseas and using it to buy a lavish home in the U.S. in the name of his wife, former actress Park Sang-ah (40).
Park ostensibly bought a US$360,000 home in Atlanta, Georgia in May 2003 and another in Newport Beach, California for $2.24 million in 2005. The Newport Beach home was put into Park's mother's name a week after the purchase, prompting suspicion that Chun Jae-yong used both women to launder his father's slush funds. The two women have also been summoned for questioning.
The ex-president's eldest son Jae-kook (54) is also expected to be summoned soon. Prosecutors said Chun Jae-yong was summoned first because they had more evidence against him, but they believe the two brothers colluded and will both be indicted.
A close confidant of the ex-president said, "The Chuns are considering many options, including paying the fine, but are facing problems since they don't have as much money as the public thinks they do."
A lawyer defending Chun's brother-in-law Lee Chang-seok, who was arrested last month, said, "News reports say prosecutors seized more than W80 billion of assets, but the actual amount is far smaller. A lot of debt has been taken out to buy real estate."