PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department said it has seized $500,000 (304,860 pounds) traced to former South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan, who was convicted in a Korean court in 1997 for accepting more than $200 million in bribes while in office.
The cash was seized from an investment in a limited partnership made by Chun’s daughter-in-law. The partnership funded Philadelphia-area economic development projects through a programme that offered foreign investors U.S. visas in exchange for their investment of $500,000.
The move brings the total amount seized from Chun’s family in the United States to $1.2 million.
“Chun Doo Hwan orchestrated a vast campaign of corruption while serving as Korea’s president,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell in a statement issued late Wednesday. “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.”
In April, the Justice Department said it had sued in court to recover $700,000 in proceeds related to the sale of a home in Newport Beach, California, that Chun’s son bought in 2005 using funds allegedly traced to his father’s corruption.
Chun, a general who seized power in a 1979 coup, was convicted in South Korea in 1997 of receiving more than $200 million in bribes. He was sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted and he was released from prison.
He and his relatives laundered some of the money through shell companies in South Korea and the United States, the Justice Department said.
Editing by Scott Malone and Mohammad Zargham