Prosecutors focus on ill-gotten gains

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Prosecutors focus on ill-gotten gains

Justice officials told JoongAng Ilbo yesterday they will shift their focus in financial criminal investigations from punishing offenders to recovering wealth taken from victims.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said it will open a special department at every prosecution office across the country to try to recover wealth from criminals and come up with a legal framework to support such efforts.

To date, institutions that have been embezzled, and individuals who have been defrauded, have had difficulty recovering stolen money due to a weakness in the system to recuperate ill-gotten gains.

According to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, all of the 17 prosecutors’ offices in Korea will have a crime proceeds confiscation department, which will track money taken through fraud or embezzlement by investigating criminals’ bank accounts.

It said prosecutors investigating a fraud or embezzlement case will take charge of the department in their local office and ensure the department work whole-heartedly to return stolen assets to victims.

When a fraud or embezzlement case is brought to court, and the accused says he or she will return stolen money, prosecutors will reflect that in the level of punishment they will propose to judges. The prosecutors will also ask judges to give criminals time to repay victims before the prosecutors propose punishments.

The Prosecutors’ Office said it will push forward with the revisions of the acts on proceeds from crime and punishment and on corrupted wealth forfeiture, which will help victims of fraud or embezzlement.

“The measure has been prepared for months by the Central Investigation Department and Criminal Department of [the prosecution] at the order of Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu,” said a prosecution official.


By Kang Chan-ho [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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