March 06, 2015 11:02
The U.S. Department of Justice has seized assets worth US$1.13 million from the family of former Korean President Chun Doo-hwan, it said Wednesday.
The seizure ends the civil forfeiture cases against $1.2 million in assets in the U.S. traceable to corruption proceeds by Chun, it added.
Chun Jae-yong and Park Sang-ah -- Chun's son and daughter-in-law -- and Park's mother signed a settlement with the department.
"Chun Doo-hwan's campaign of corruption and bribery while serving as Korea's president betrayed the trust of the Korean people, deprived Korea's government of precious resources and undermined the rule of law," said Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell. "The close cooperation between the U.S. and Korea in successfully recovering corruption proceeds stands as a testament to our resolve to battle the scourge of corruption through international collaboration."
Chun has long refused to pay his fines for corruption in office, claiming insolvency.
In February last year, the department got a restitution order from the Central District Court of California at the request of the Korean government to seize $726,000 from the sale of a house Chun Jae-yong owned in Newport Beach, California.
Last September, a warrant from the Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania empowered it to seize another $500,000 from Park.
Park had reportedly invested the money in a convention center in Philadelphia to obtain an EB-5 immigrant investor program visa.
Besides, the department said it assisted the Korean government in recovering $27.5 million worth of assets from Chun's family.
This is the first case where the two countries have successfully collaborated in seizing corruption proceeds. The U.S. launched the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative in 2010 to provide support in the global fight against corruption.
"The Justice Ministry and prosecutors will do their best to recover the rest of Chun's unpaid fines," a ministry official here said and will seek the help of other countries if necessary.
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