Pressure mounts on Chun’s clan to pay fines

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Pressure mounts on Chun’s clan to pay fines

Former President Chun Doo Hwan’s son, who was grilled by prosecutors for 18 hours on Tuesday, reappeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday morning to submit documents supporting his claims about business dealings of interest to prosecutors.

The documents submitted by Chun Jae-yong, 49, the former military strongman’s second son, reportedly are connected with Chun’s purchase of several houses overseas. Appearing at the office at about 9 a.m., he stayed inside for only about 10 minutes.

On Tuesday, he was questioned about the evasion of gift taxes amounting to 5.9 billion won ($5.4 million) in a real estate transaction that was allegedly funded by the hidden wealth of the former president.

Chun and his wife, Park Sang-ah, a former TV actress, were also questioned about their purchase of two houses in the United States in 2003 and 2005, one worth $360,000 and one $2.24 million. Park was questioned last Saturday on the same matter.

After reports that Chun had provided documents to the prosecutors spread, so did speculation that the papers were in fact a payment plan by the Chun family for the remaining 167.2 billion won in unpaid fines. A prosecutor said that was not the case.

Part of the questioning on Tuesday was an attempt by prosecutors to determine if he had been involved in managing his father’s assets, which the government claims were amassed illegally during his move to seize the presidency and his term in office.

The former president has three sons and a daughter; his son’s questioning was the first time any of them had been called in during the government’s search for that hidden wealth.

Grim-faced, Chun said as he left the prosecutors’ office at nearly 2 a.m. Wednesday after the lengthy questioning that his family would decide together how to handle the demands for the payment of fines levied on the former president.

A special investigation team going after that money is now reviewing the younger Chun’s testimony and documents and also considering its next steps.

The Chun family, which has insisted for about 15 years that the former president is nearly destitute, has been under growing pressure to pay 167.2 billion won in unpaid fines following the passage of the so-called Chun Doo Hwan Act at the National Assembly in June.

The measure authorized the government to confiscate assets not only of Chun but also of his family members or associates who acquired wealth from the general-tuned-president and knew if it came from illegal sources.

Chun seized power in 1980 through a military coup and ruled the country for seven years.

He was convicted in 1997 of accepting bribes and amassing hidden funds during his time in office. He was ordered to pay 220.5 billion won in total.



BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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