Probe Chun’s offshore account

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Probe Chun’s offshore account

The eldest son of former President Chun Doo Hwan is on the latest list of names leaked by the Korean branch of a group of international journalists investigating tax havens and cheats. According to its account, Chun Jae-kook created a shell company in the Virgin Islands in 2004. The younger Chun claimed he opened the account to move his money to Singapore from the United States after he stopped studying there in 1989. He denied any illicit activity or intention to hide assets.

However, his explanation only raised more questions. If he returned home in 1989, why did he create a shell company 15 years later, in 2004 - the same year when prosecutors found 16.7 billion won ($14.9 million) under a false name traced to his younger brother, Jae-young? About 7.3 billion won was associated with slush funds of the former president, who was convicted of embezzlement. The elder son’s shell company could also have been used to hide the former president’s slush funds.

Chun’s account hardly helped the family. How much wealth did he need to live and study in the U.S. if he was able to place the leftover sum in an Arabic bank used mostly by the richest of people and create a shell company to manage the money? Ordinary people would use the money for living expenses. Who would believe a shell company served to sustain the tuition and living expenses he used in the U.S.? There should be a better and clearer explanation.

It’s not illegal to create an offshore shell company and account. But it’s different for Chun Doo Hwan’s sons. The former president has paid less than 25 percent of the penalty fine of 220.5 billion won he was given after the Supreme Court found him guilty of various crimes, including corruption and treason, in 1997. He is suspected of money-laundering and hiding assets elsewhere. He claims he is broke and cannot pay the remaining 167.2 billion won. While claiming he only has 290,000 won in his bank account, he was often seen playing golf and even donated 10 million won to his alma mater, the military academy. The son of such a dubious man should not have created a suspicious offshore account.

The statute of limitations on collecting Chun’s fine is Oct. 11. The main opposition Democratic Party proposes a special bill to hunt down and seize Chun’s hidden wealth during the special session in June. The ruling Saenuri Party also agrees on thorough investigations into Jae-kook’s offshore account. Law enforcement authorities must reinvestigate Chun family’s slush funds with the help of tax and financial authorities. There is not much time left to retrieve the money.
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