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South Korea kleptocrat (and former president) forfeits $1 million to DOJ

The Department of Justice said Wednesday it settled a civil forfeiture case against $1.1 million in assets traceable to bribes taken by Chun Doo Hwan, the former president of South Korea. 

Chun was convicted in Korea in 1997 of receiving more than $200 million in bribes from Korean businesses and companies. 

“Chun and his relatives laundered some of these corruption proceeds through a web of nominees, trusts and shell companies in both Korea and the United States,” the DOJ said.

Under the terms of the settlement, $1,116,951.45 in assets in the United States will be forfeited to the DOJ.

In April last year, the DOJ seized about $700,000 generated by the sale of a Newport (California) Beach home owned by Chun’s son, Chun Jae Yong. Prosecutors said the house was bought in 2005 with money obtained through bribes collected by his father.

In September, the DOJ said it seized about $500,000 more of Chun’s assets in the U.S.

The DOJ brought the forfeiture case under its Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative, an effort among U.S. federal agencies to target the proceeds of overseas public graft.

Chun was pardoned immediately after his 1997 conviction in Korea. The court ordered him to pay back the bribe money he collected. He returned only a portion of it, claiming he was broke.

The DOJ said Wednesday it also helped the South Korea government recover an additional $27.5 million from Chun.

“During the joint U.S.-Korean investigation,” the DOJ said, “approximately $27.5 million in additional funds were paid by an associate of former President Chun to the Korean government to partially settle the judgment entered against former President Chun upon his criminal conviction.”

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.

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