DOJ Seizes Assets From Ex-Korean President


     WASHINGTON (CN) - Federal officials seized almost a half million dollars in assets held by former South Korean president Chun Doo Hwan, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.
     With today's announcement, the U.S. has seized more than $1.2 million of Chun's assets, money laundered as part of a "vast campaign of corruption" during his presidency in the 1980s, Justice Department prosecutor Leslie R. Caldwell said.
     In 1997, a South Korean Supreme Court convicted Chun, 83, for taking more than $200 million in bribes from Korean businesses and other entities, and ordered Chun to pay 220 billion won ($212 million) in restitution.
     Chun and his family members laundered money through individuals and shell companies in Korea and the United States, the Justice Department said.
     As part of a series of tangled transactions, Chun's daughter-in-law started a Pennsylvania limited partnership worth almost $500,000.
     Earlier this year, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles seized $726,000 from the sale of a Newport Beach residence. President Chun's son, Chun Jae Yong bought the house in 2005 using the dirty assets, prosecutors said.
     "Our country will not be used by corrupt foreign leaders to conceal the illicit profits of their crimes," Homeland Security Investigations Executive Peter T. Edge said in a statement. "We will continue to work with our international law enforcement partners to ensure that such individuals are held accountable and that the assets are returned to their rightful owners."
     A former army general, Chun rose to power after the assassination of South Korean Park Chung-Hee in 1979. He was president from 1980 until 1988.
     In 1996, Chun was sentenced to death for his part in the Gwangju Massacre of more than 288 people during a military action to defeat an uprising in the city of Gwangju. But he was later pardoned.