Prosecutors investigating former President Chun Doo-hwan’s concealed assets on Tuesday grilled his son over allegations that he dodged a large sum of taxes in a shady real estate deal and purchased luxury residences abroad with his father’s slush fund.
Chun’s second son, Jae-yong, was summoned by Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office early in the morning as a key suspect for a suspicious land transaction with his uncle in 2006. Prosecutors believe that the younger Chun conspired with his uncle, Lee Chang-seok, to take over a 280,000-square-meter plot of land in Osan, south of Seoul, at one tenth of the official appraisal price.
Chun Jae-yong is the first among the ex-president’s four children to be questioned by the prosecution.
The prosecution has been conducting an intensive, two-track investigation into Chun and his family since May to collect 167 billion won ($152 million) in unpaid fines. They first started to search for Chun’s concealed assets, but soon turned to seeking ways to prosecute his family members to put pressure on the former president who claims to have only 270,000 won in his bank account.
Last month, the prosecution detained Lee, the younger brother of Chun’s wife Lee Soon-ja, on charges of evading about 5.9 billion won in tax while selling the property to his nephew. The prosecution has seized ownership of the land in Osan allegedly traded through illegal means.
Chun’s 49-year-old son was also questioned over the source of the money used to buy two residences in the United States. Jae-yong bought a house in Atlanta worth $360,000 in 2003 under his wife’s name and another $2.2 million residence in Los Angeles under his mother-in-law’s name. Chun’s former TV actress wife was summoned by the prosecution on Saturday over properties that have come under scrutiny. If the prosecution proves that the younger Chun used a part of his father’s slush fund to buy the residences in U.S., authorities are likely to request foreign cooperation to confiscate the properties.
After Jae-yong, the prosecution is likely to grill his elder brother Jae-kook. Chun Jae-kook, CEO of Sigongsa, one of leading publishing companies in Korea, is suspected of laundering his father’s slush funds through purchasing art and properties under borrowed names, and also via accounts opened under the name of a paper company he established in the British Virgin Islands.
In 1997, former President Chun was sentenced to life in prison and ordered to pay 220.5 billion won in penalties for leading an insurrection and accepting bribes while in power from 1980 to 1987.
By Cho Chung-un (email@example.com