Former President Chun Doo-hwan’s family announced on Tuesday that they will pay the 167.2 billion won ($154.2 million) remaining in fines and offered a public apology for causing public concern.
“I apologize on behalf of our family for causing concerns for the people over the problems with collecting unpaid fines,” eldest son Chun Jae-kook said in front of Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.
“I am sorry for delaying the decision due to my inadequacy and realistic problems even though my father has been telling me to cooperate with the authorities,” he said before heading to the prosecutors’ office.
|Former President Chun Doo-hwan’s eldest son Chun Jae-kook announces plans to pay the 167.2 billion won in fines in front of Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Tuesday. (Ahn Hoon/The Korea Herald)|
Chun was scheduled to make an announcement before submitting a detailed plan on how the family would pay unpaid fines to the state through the prosecution.
The younger Chun said the family will “voluntarily” return 170.3 billion won worth of real estate, financial assets and art. The proposed amount exceeds the unpaid fine. The amount includes the family’s assets already confiscated by the prosecution for last four months. The seized assets are evaluated at around 90 billion won, the prosecutors said.
The list included the former president’s current residence in Yeonhee-dong, Seoul, an office building of publishing company Sigongsa, and a leisure town called Herb Village, both owned by Chun’s eldest son. Chun’s second son Jae-yong will give up his properties in Osan, Gyeonggi Province, and Seocho-gu, Seoul. Chun’s third son will transfer the ownership of a luxury building in Hannam-dong, central Seoul, to the state. The list also included a burial ground for Chun’s ancestors.
The list included the residence where Chun has lived since 1969. But Chun’s son said he and his siblings are hoping that their parents can still live out their lives at the residence.
“From now on, until the collection of unpaid fines is completed, our family will cooperate fully with the authorities and also in further investigations,” he said, declining to answer questions.
The prosecution plans to officially assess the value of the assets and launch another task force with Korea Asset Management Corporation to administer the repossession process. If the estimated value of the assets is found insufficient to meet the full payment, the prosecution will track down more of Chun’s concealed assets.
The announcement came four months after the prosecution launched a task force team to collect Chun’s overdue fines. 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. Over the last 16 years, the former president paid only one-fourth of the total.
The prosecution has conducted 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 had claimed to have only 290,000 won in his bank account.
Last month, the prosecution detained Lee Chang-seok, the younger brother of Chun’s wife Lee Soon-ja, on charges of evading about 5.9 billion won in taxes. Chun’s second son Jae-yong was grilled by the prosecution as a key suspect for a suspicious land transaction with his uncle in 2006.
Chun’s other children are suspected of evading taxes and laundering money overseas. The prosecution believes that they were able to pursue wealthy lives and expand businesses with his father’s slush fund.
Both the ruling and main opposition parties welcomed Chun’s decision.
Saenuri spokeswoman Min Hyun-joo urged the prosecution to continue its investigation into Chun’s family on suspicion of evading taxes and creating slush funds overseas.
“Even after (Chun) pays the bill, the prosecution must continue its probe into allegations that Chun’s family members evaded taxes and (created) funds overseas to establish justice,” she said.
The National Assembly has supported the prosecution‘s move to collect Chun’s money.
The statute of limitations on collecting Chun’s fines was set to expire in October. The parliament revised the Act on Special Cases Concerning Forfeiture for Offenses by Public Officials in June.
Apparently moved by the prosecution‘s intensive probe into Chun’s family, former President Roh Tae-woo said that he will also pay the unpaid 23 billion won in fines through his family members. Roh’s former in-law Shin Myoung-soo, ex-chairman of the now-defunct Shindongbang Group, paid 8 billion won to the state last month.
Roh’s brother Jae-woo is known to have agreed to pay the remaining 15 billion won. Roh has been demanding that the two must return assets he gave them so that he can use them to pay off his debt. Roh, who served as president between 1988 and 1992, was sentenced to 17 years in prison and fined 262.8 billion won in 1997 on a number of charges including revolt and bribery.
Key family assets to be surrendered
-Chun Doo-hwan’s wife Lee Soon-ja’s residence in Yeonhui-dong
-1st son Jae-kook’s Sigongsa office building, Herb Village leisure town, and plots in Hapcheon, shares in a Sigongsa affiliate and art pieces
-2nd son Jae-yong’s properties in Osan and Seocho-gu
-3rd son Jae-man’s building in Hannam-dong
-Part of Jae-man’s wife’s residence in Yeonhui-dong
-Jae-man’s father-in-law Lee Hee-sang’s financial assets
-Daughter Hyo-sun’s property in Anyang
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org