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Chun investigators raid in-law's firm, to question children
Publication Date : 03-09-2013
The prosecution intensified pressure on former South Korean President Chun Doo-hwan on Monday by raiding the company belonging to his in-law, who is suspected of laundering Chun’s hidden assets, and pushing forward with plans to summon his children.
Authorities investigating Chun’s secretive fund, raided the offices of DongA One Corp., a leading local flour mill company owned by Lee Hee-sang, the father-in-law of Chun’s youngest son Jae-man.
They seized computer hard discs and account books from 11 offices and the residence of the company’s chairman. Lee is suspected of offering a 16 billion won (US$14.5 million) bond to his son-in-law, Jae-man, as a wedding gift in 1995. The prosecution believes that the money was part of Chun’s slush fund and that it was delivered by Lee in order to hide its origin. The former president was at the time under a prosecution probe over slush fund allegations.
“The raid was conducted to corroborate the charges that the secret funds were illegally transferred from Chun to his children,” a prosecutor said.
Chun Jae-man currently serves as a senior director at the company, which recently has jumped into the wine business. In 2005, the company, through its affiliate, purchased real estate and a winery in California’s Napa Valley, for roughly more than 100 billion won. It has been rumoured since then that Chun Jae-man is the real owner and that he took over the property with his father’s secret funds. Chun’s third son also suspiciously owns an eight-story commercial building in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, worth more than 10 billion won.
In a related move, the prosecution seized property worth 20 billion won owned by Chun’s eldest son Jae-kook, as well as part of a property in Osan owned by his second son Jae-yong, late last month.
Sources say that prosecutors may start summoning Chun’s children within this week and Jae-yong seems to be the first in the line as he is implicated in a shady business deal with his uncle.
The prosecution has detained Lee Chang-seok, the younger brother of Chun’s wife, since last month over his alleged role in helping Chun’s children illegally gain their inheritance. In 2006, the uncle Lee sold his property in Osan to Chun Jae-yong for 2.8 billion won, substantially lower than the market price of about 50 billion won.
Prosecutors also questioned Jae-yong’s wife and former TV actress Park Sang-a on Saturday over their suspicious property in Atlanta and Los Angeles.
With the prosecution zeroing in on Chun’s children, the former president and his family have agreed to pay up 80 billion won, approximately a half of the unpaid 167.2 billion won in fines, according to local reports.
But the prosecution denied the reports and said it will continue its job of confiscating Chun’s concealed assets.
The prosecutors’ office has been operating a special team to locate Chun’s hidden assets since May in an effort to collect outstanding fines from the former president.
In 1997, Chun was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to pay 220.5 billion won in penalties for leading an insurrection and accepting bribes while he was in power from 1980 to 1987.
Meanwhile, former President Roh Tae-woo began paying the unpaid 23 billion won in fines through his family members, a few days after he reached an agreement with them. Roh’s former in-law Shin Myoung-soo, ex-chairman of the now-defunct Shindongbang Group, paid 8 billion won to the public purse on Monday afternoon, according to the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office.
Roh’s brother Jae-woo is known to have agreed to pay the remaining 15 billion won. Roh has been demanding that the two must return assets he gave them so that he could use them to pay off his debt. Roh, who served as president between 1988 and 1992, was sentenced to 17 years in prison and fined 262.8 billion won in 1997 on a number of charges including revolt and bribery.
*US$1= 1,096 won