Chun kin’s accounts seized

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Chun kin’s accounts seized

Prosecutors have seized bank accounts belonging to a relative of former President Chun Doo Hwan, 82, as part of their attempts to recover unpaid fines owed by the former strongman.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that they had seized personal bank accounts for Lee Jae-hong, 57, a nephew of Chun.

“We can’t tell yet how many accounts have been seized or how much funds are in there,” a spokesman for the prosecution told reporters.

According to the prosecution, Lee, who runs Chungwoo Development, a landscaping firm in southern Seoul, allegedly purchased 578 square meters (691 square yards) of land in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, in 1991 for 2 billion won ($1.8 million) using Chun’s slush funds.

The land was confiscated by the prosecution on Tuesday. The land was sold to a man surnamed Park, 49, a friend of Chun’s oldest son Jae-kook, for 5.1 billion won in 2011, according to the prosecution.

The prosecution suspects that Lee deposited the proceeds from the sale to Chun through multiple bank accounts. “We seized Lee’s accounts because he might launder the funds, to hide the transfer routes to Chun,” a spokesman for the prosecution said.

The spokesman added that Lee used the Hannam-dong land as collateral for loans three times between 1999 and 2009.

On Aug. 19, the prosecution seized the 62 hectares of land in Osan, Gyeonggi, that belonged to Chun’s second-oldest son Jae-young.

The funds for that land purchase also stemmed from Chun’s slush funds, according to prosecutors.

The prosecution raided the office of Chungwoo on Aug. 13 and held Lee as part of its probe. Lee was released two days later.

Chun rose to power in 1980 through a military coup and ruled the country until 1988. In 1997, the Supreme Court convicted him of accepting massive bribes and running slush funds during his presidency and ordered him to pay a fine of 220.5 billion won.

He refused to pay the outstanding balance of 167.2 billion won, famously saying he had only 290,000 won left to his name. The National Assembly approved a special law in June to allow the government to go after the assets of his family if those funds were proven to originally come from Chun.

BY LEE DONG-HYUN AND KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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