The U.S. government seized $500,000 in assets belonging to a former South Korean president, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.
Chun Doo Hwan served as president of the Asian nation from 1979 to 1988. He was convicted in Korea in 1997 for accepting more than $200 million in bribes while in office.
“Our country will not be used by corrupt foreign leaders to conceal the illicit profits of their crimes,” said Peter Edge, the executive associate director of the Homeland Security Investigations office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
“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,” Mr. Edge said.
The U.S. seized the most recent $500,000 under anti-corruption laws from an investment by former President Chun’s daughter-in-law that officials said was traceable to Mr. Chun’s corruption. It joins $726,000 the Justice Department seized from Mr. Chun’s son sale of a residence in Newport Beach, California.
U.S. law enforcement agents said Mr. Chun and his family laundered the money through a collection of shell corporations in the U.S. and South Korea.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said the department “will use every available means to deny corrupt foreign officials and their relatives safe haven for their assets in the United States.”
Throughout the investigation, federal officials said they worked closely with South Korea’s Supreme Prosecutor’s Office Anti-Corruption Supervisory Division, the Ministry of Justice’s International Criminal Affairs Division and the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutor’s Foreign Criminal Affairs Department.