Published : 2013-08-18 20:18
Updated : 2013-08-18 20:18
The prosecution is closing in on former President Chun Doo-hwan’s family in its search for his ill-gotten assets presumed to be hidden away. In the face of a criminal investigation gaining momentum, Chun’s family is reportedly considering offering to make a deal with the prosecution.
Apprehension must be deepening among the Chun family as a court is set to determine whether to issue an arrest warrant for Chun’s brother-in-law on Monday. Moreover, it appears to be only a matter of time before the prosecution summons Chun’s sons for interrogation.
His wealth amassing began shortly after he took power in a coup as an Army general in December 1979. The prosecution concluded in 1996 that he had since collected 950 billion won from businesses and that he had stashed away more than 220 billion won when he retired as president in 1988.
In 1997, the Supreme Court upheld a decision by a lower court, which ruled that he had committed treason, sentenced him to life in prison and imposed 220.5 billion won in fines. The strongman, who was freed by presidential pardon after serving eight months, has since paid just 53.2 billion won.
The prosecution resumed its search for Chun’s hidden assets when the National Assembly extended the October statutory limit to fine collection by seven years in June. It has since conducted searches and seizures on the homes of the Chun family and the corporations under the management of Chun’s sons and relatives.
Among the breakthroughs the prosecution has made so far is the acquisition of a document in which Chun’s brother-in-law, Lee Chang-seok, reportedly agreed to transfer 50 billion won to Chun’s children. The prosecution has requested a court warrant to arrest him on charges of evading tax payments. The prosecution will certainly bring up additional charges against him when it confirms he has helped Chun hide his assets.
As the noose is tightening around not just the neck of Chun’s brother-in-law but those of his sons and relatives, Chun has reportedly sounded out the possibility of making a deal with the prosecution through his counsel. A news report has it that Chun did an about-face and offered to pay some of the unpaid 167.2 billion won as part of a deal with the prosecution.
A few weeks ago, Chun made a statement though his former aide that he had no money to pay the fines if he wanted to. He claimed he had used all the money he had taken from business groups for what he said was his governance.
But paying the fines, be it voluntarily or forcibly, is one thing, and being put to criminal justice another. As the law-enforcement agency says, those who have committed criminal offenses will have to be prosecuted, regardless of whether or not Chun chooses to pay the remaining fines.
At the same time, the prosecution will have to aim at collecting all the fines. At stake is its reputation as the most powerful law-enforcement agency in the nation.