Chun’s son is accused of stashing cash

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Chun’s son is accused of stashing cash

Prosecutors on the hunt for the illicit wealth of former President Chun Doo Hwan say that his second son might have stashed funds abroad.

A special investigation team of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office alleged on Wednesday that Chun Jae-yong wired $200,000 or more to the U.S. office of Ware Valley, a database security firm he runs, between 2002 and 2003. Prosecutors say the U.S. branch was in fact just a shell company.

The suspicion is that the money is a small portion of 16.7 billion won ($14.9 million) in ill-gotten gains that were found when Chun Jae-yong was investigated for tax evasion in 2004. In 2001, he invested 1.5 billion won in Ware Valley through a real estate management firm he owns called BL Asset. Prosecutors believe BL Asset manages real estate owned by Chun Doo Hwan’s family.

In 2002, Jae-yong became cochairman of Ware Valley with a friend surnamed Ryu, 48. The next year, he became the CEO of the U.S. office in Silicon Valley, which prosecutors believe was a paper company. The office was shut down in 2005.

“We are currently checking whether the shifted slush funds can be redeemed through cooperation with the National Tax Service,” said a spokesman of the central district prosecutors’ office. The investigation team recently summoned Ryu as it probed how the company transferred the money to Ware Valley’s American office.

In 2001, Ryu helped Chun Jae-yong when he purchased three luxury condominiums in Itaewon-dong, central Seoul with a 2.57 billion won slush fund, by letting him put them under Ryu’s father’s name.

The investigation team is also investigating whether the former president’s eldest son, Jae-kook, 53, stashed cash in the British Virgin Islands by establishing a shell company there in 2004.

BY LEE DONG-HYUN [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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