Justice Department Seizes an Additional $500,000 in Corrupt Assets Tied to Former President of Republic of Korea
WASHINGTON—The Department of Justice has seized 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.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Executive Associate Director Peter T. Edge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Assistant Director Joseph S. Campbell of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division made the announcement after the seizure warrant issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania was unsealed today.
“Chun Doo Hwan orchestrated a vast campaign of corruption while serving as Korea’s president,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “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.”
“Our country will not be used by corrupt foreign leaders to conceal the illicit profits of their crimes,” said HSI Executive Associate Director 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.”
“The U.S. will not be a safe repository for assets misappropriated by corrupt foreign leaders,” said FBI Assistant Director Campbell. “The FBI is committed to working with foreign and domestic partners to identify and return those assets to the legitimate owners, in this case the people of the Republic of Korea.”
The court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania late yesterday unsealed an application filed on Aug. 22, 2014, 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 2014, 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.
This case was brought under the Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative by a team of dedicated prosecutors in the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, working in partnership with federal law enforcement agencies to forfeit the proceeds of foreign official corruption and, where appropriate, return those proceeds to benefit the people harmed by these acts of corruption and abuse of office. Individuals with information about possible proceeds of foreign corruption located in or laundered through the United States should contact federal law enforcement or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The investigation was conducted jointly by 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. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Woo S. Lee and Della Sentilles of the Criminal Division’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, with substantial support from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and the Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs.