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$500,000 in corrupt assets seized from former Republic of Korea president

This news story was published on September 4, 2014.
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investigateWASHINGTON — A seizure warrant issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was unsealed Wednesday, announcing the seizure of approximately $500,000 in assets traceable to corruption proceeds accumulated by Chun Doo Hwan, the former president of the Republic of Korea. This seizure brings the total value of seized corruption proceeds of President Chun to more than $1.2 million.

The investigation leading up to the seizure was conducted jointly by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Philadelphia, HSI Attaché Seoul, the FBI Kleptocracy Program of the International Corruption Unit within the Criminal Investigation Division, and the FBI’s West Covina Resident Agency of the Los Angeles Division.

“Our country will not be used by corrupt foreign leaders to conceal the illicit profits of their crimes,” said HSI Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge. “We will continue to work with our international law enforcement partners to ensure that such individuals are held accountable and that the assets are returned to their rightful owners.”

“Chun Doo Hwan orchestrated a vast campaign of corruption while serving as Korea’s president,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “President Chun 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. Today’s seizure underscores how the Criminal Division’s Kleptocracy Initiative – working in close collaboration with our law enforcement partners across the globe – will use every available means to deny corrupt foreign officials and their relatives safe haven for their assets in the United States.”

The court unsealed an application filed on Aug. 22 by the Justice Department to seize an investment by former President Chun’s daughter-in-law in a Pennsylvania limited partnership worth approximately $500,000. In February, the department obtained a court order from the Central District of California seizing $726,000 in proceeds from the sale of a residence located in Newport Beach, California, that President Chun’s son, Chun Jae Yong, purchased in 2005 with proceeds allegedly traceable to his father’s corruption.

As alleged in the government’s application for a seizure warrant and supporting affidavit, President Chun was convicted in Korea in 1997 of receiving more than $200 million in bribes from Korean businesses and companies. President Chun and his relatives laundered some of these corruption proceeds through a web of nominees and shell companies in both Korea and the United States.

The United States is working closely with the Republic of Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office–Anti-Corruption Supervisory Division, the Ministry of Justice’s International Criminal Affairs Division and the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutor’s Foreign Criminal Affairs Department to forfeit these corruption proceeds.

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