U.S. Seizes More Assets of Korean Ex-President

Chun Jae-yong (left) and his wife Park Sang-ah Chun Jae-yong (left) and his wife Park Sang-ah

The U.S. Justice Department has seized more assets belonging to disgraced former Korean president Chun Doo-hwan.

Chun was convicted in 1997 of corruption and insurrection and fined US$212 million but has only paid a fraction citing penury.

The department this week seized $500,000 Chun's daughter-in-law invested in a company in Pennsylvania. In February, federal agents seized $726,000 which came from the sale of a Newport Beach home owned by his son Jae-yong.

The money will be returned to the Korean government subject to approval by an American court.

"Chun Doo-hwan orchestrated a vast campaign of corruption while serving as Korea's president," Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in a statement. He "amassed more than $200 million in bribes while in office, and he and his relatives systematically laundered these funds through a complex web of transactions in the United States and Korea."

The seizure was made possible by a bilateral treaty signed back in 1993. Prosecutors in Korea sought the help of the U.S. Justice Department in August last year to track the assets hidden there by Chun's family.

The department then worked with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration Department and Department of Homeland Security to track them down.

A prosecution official here said the joint probe boosted trust between law enforcement officials in both countries. Prosecutors hope that the cooperation will continue in the search for assets hidden in the U.S. by those responsible for the April 16 ferry disaster.

A search is currently underway for the U.S. assets of ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon and his family.

englishnews@chosun.com / Sep. 05, 2014 10:13 KST