[EDITORIALS]Follow the money trail

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[EDITORIALS]Follow the money trail

Prosecutors say they found 10 billion won ($8.5 million) that the second son of former President Chun Doo Hwan allegedly hid, confiscating 4.7 billion won. Prosecutors got a statement from a loan shark that the money in question belonged to the ex-president’s son, while they were looking into the bank accounts of the Hyundai Group to investigate possible illicit political funds.
Mr. Chun’s side responded to the allegations by saying, “The money is related to the business of the second son and it has no connection with the former President Chun. The second son, who’s now in the United States, will soon come back to explain.”
The prosecutors’ investigation is still in its early stages, so it is not certain whether the money indeed belongs to Mr. Chun or not. However, considering the Chun family members’ wealth, it is difficult to rule out the possibility that Mr. Chun’s secret fund fed his second son’s business capital. Press reports have revealed that the Chun family’s property is worth at least 25 billion won. The first son owns land and a building in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, along with other real estate, worth at least 6.5 billion won under his name. The third son owns a building in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, whose market price is about 10 billion won. His grandsons and granddaughters, although only teenagers, own real estate worth several billion won.
Mr. Chun was fined 220.5 billion won by the Supreme Court in 1997 but paid only 31.4 billion won, saying, “I have no money, for I spent it all for political funds.” Mr. Chun testified before the judge last April that he had only 291,000 won in his bank account. His personal belongings were auctioned earlier this month, with another auction planned next month on an annex to his home. And yet, he donated a tree worth several million won to a golf range, which enraged people.
Amassing a fortune through power should not be repeated. Prosecutors should pursue Mr. Chun’s alleged hidden assets as a warning to future generations. Mr. Chun also should admit if he has any hidden property, instead of insisting that he is penniless.
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