Disgraced ex-president Chun Doo-hwan's son Jae-yong and his wife, actress Park Sang-ah, own a US$2.4-million home in Orange County, California, giving the lie to his claim that he is broke.
The property was discovered by journalist Ahn Chi-yong, who analyzed real estate registration documents and other materials for the Chosun Ilbo's premium website on Sunday.
Prosecutors last month revised an arraignment of disgraced Chun Jae-yong and his uncle Lee Chang-seok, reducing the amount of taxes they allegedly evaded from W6 billion to W2.7 billion (US$1=W1,073). Prosecutors accepted Chun's claim that he did not manipulate a real estate contract for the sale of a plot in Osan, south of Seoul to dodge W6 billion in taxes.
Through his lawyer, Chun told the Seoul Central District Court last month that he was broke after paying part of the W220.5 billion fine his father still owes for corruption in office.
But according to Ahn, Chun and Park bought and sold a home in Atlanta, Georgia in 2003 and purchased the lavish residence in Newport Beach, an affluent city in Orange Country, in 2005, taking out a $1.33 million loan to pay for it. At the time of the purchase, Park was married to Chun but claimed in the real estate documents that she was single.
After buying the home, Park transferred ownership to a trust, but a closer look at the mortgage documents and other records showed Park is still the owner of the home, while her mother is listed as the legal custodian.
California laws stipulate that the spouse of a buyer of a home automatically gains 50-percent ownership of a property. As a result, Chun owns half of the Newport Beach real estate. If the couple sell the house, they would be left with a clean W1 billion even after repaying their loan.
The two apparently put the house up for quick sale at a reduced price tag.